As the recruiting mail arrived, I built a list of colleges that offer honors programs or honors colleges.
Interestingly, colleges have a different perspective of how to treat gifted students than our high school. In our public high school, the highest student:teacher ratios, by policy, are in the GT classes. The philosophy is apparently that the gifted kids can fend for themselves and more money should be directed at the lowest students.
Finally, in college, we can turn the paradigm on its head. Some colleges offer their “honors scholars” classes with lower student:faculty ratios, special advisors, dinners with faculty, etc. etc. Some even have special dorms for honors students. The philosophy is to ensure the gifted students get the best possible education. Maybe that is self-serving on the colleges’ part in that they get to brag about the caliber of students they attract, then hope they will distinguish themselves as alumni and reflect well on their university. Regardless, it’s an appealing option.
Honors programs provide a way for gifted students to find each other, to develop dialogue and friendships with their intellectual peers. I’m particularly looking for honors programs at the larger schools and at the somewhat less selective schools, where the gifted kids might have a tougher time finding each other as freshmen.
My tentative hypothesis is that honors programs that include honors housing are preferable, but I don’t have any data to back that up. I chose not to participate in the residential honors program at my alma mater, Stephens College, but have come to regret that decision as I realize students in the honors program developed stronger, longer lasting friendships that almost any other group on our campus. My son lived on the honors floor at University of Oklahoma, and his friendships were all with guys on his floor .
- Arizona State University, Tempe AZ – Barrett Honors College (2989 students, 8 residences)
- Auburn University, Auburn AL – honors dorms, priority registration, small classes
- City University of New York’s Macaulay Honors College – 4 classes together plus some upper level classes
- DePaul University, Chicago IL – Honors Program (200 students); option of honors dorm new for 2009-10
- George Washington University, Washington DC – Honors program (120 students), accelerated program and special programs
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana PA – Robert E. Cook Honors College (residential program; core curiculum)
- Miami University, Oxford OH – Honors Program (residential option)
- Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI – Honors College (non-residential)
- New College, Sarasota FL – the honors college of the University Florida system
- New York University, NY – National Merit Finalist Program
- Northeastern University, Boston MA – Honors Program
- Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX – University Honors Program or Hilltop Scholars Program
- Tarleton State University, Stephensville TX – Honors program with dorm, parking, seminars, trip to conference
- Texas A&M University, College Station TX – Honors programs
- Texas A&M University at Galveston, TX – Honors program, research opportunities in marine biology/ geology / sciences / transportation
- Texas Tech University, Lubbock TX – Honors College
- The Ohio State University, Columbus OH – Ohio State Scholars or University Honors Program (external review)
- Union College, Schenectady NY – Scholars Program
- University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa AL – small classes, priority registration
- University of Delaware, Newark, DE
- University of Houston, Houston TX – Honors College
- University of Kansas – University Honors Program includes priority enrollment, honors courses
- University of Missouri, Columbia MO – Honors College, dorm
- University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – “inclusive & permeable” Honors Programs (6% of freshmen)
- University of Pittsburgh, PA
- University of South Carolina – Honors College with 1200 students, honors dorm
- University of Texas Arlington – Honors College
- University of Texas (Austin) – 6 honors programs: Plan II, Business, Engineering, Liberal Arts, Dean’s Scholars (natural sciences), and Turing (computer sciences) with Honors Quad
A somewhat comprehensive list
The National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) published a guide to honors programs in 2005, which lists almost 600 such programs. Unfortunately, their list isn’t complete. For instance, it doesn’t list George Washington University nor my alma mater. But they do provide some information that might not be found on a school’s website, such as the number of students in the honors program and whether there are academic advisors specifically for the honors program. Otherwise, much of the information could likely be found on an individual school’s website. I wish the book had a list by state, instead of just alphabetically, so people could search for colleges in their targeted geographic area.
If your library doesn’t have a copy of the book, you can try using the alphabetical list of NCHC member institutions on the NCHC website.
Best Honors Colleges at Public Universities lists
In Reader’s Digest’s May 2005 “Best of America”, they identified three public universities as having the “Best Honors College“:
- Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College
- Penn State’s Schreyer Honors College
- U of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College
In 1993, Money Magazine identified 8 honors programs as offering “The Best Deals in Public Education“:
- Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College
- Indiana University at Bloomington
- Michigan State University at East Lansing
- Pennsylvania State University at University Park
- University of Georgia at Athens
- University of Pittsburgh at Oakland
- University of Utah at Salt Lake City
- Washington State University at Pullman
The Fiske Guide to Getting Into the Right College highlights the honors programs at 3 public universities:
- University Of Michigan (Ann Arbor) Residential College
- University of Texas (Austin) Plan II
- University of Virginia Echols Scholars Program