Most of the differences between high school honors classes and a college or university Honors education stem from the distinction between quantity and quality. High school honors classes tends to be distinguished from non-honors classes by the greater amount of work that honors students are required to do, or the faster (“accelerated”) speed at which they progress through their course work. Indeed, often when high school honors students first consider a college or university Honors education, they may feel some reluctance to take on what they believe will be extra work or little more than an accelerated version of an already-fast-paced college education.
But college Honors is not designed to be about more work or harder work. It is truly student-centered education. It is meant to provide students with an education that helps them develop their own ideas rather than simply having them feed back information. It is about discussing issues and encouraging innovation in an atmosphere of open exchange, where students’ views are respected. Honors programs emphasize diverse perspectives, interdisciplinary course work, small classes, and greater interaction between students and professors. Honors education is about learning to think clearly, to write well, to argue thoughtfully. It is about developing the student’s fullest intellectual potential.
Finally, students should bear in mind that the majority of their courses in college will not be Honors courses. They will be courses in their major or free electives.