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Hidden Gems: Honors Colleges

Our high schools and universities are BIG here in South Florida. My two daughters went to an excellent South Florida public high school - total enrollment 4,400 students! And almost all of our Florida public universities are GIANT: UCF has 64,000 students; FIU has 55,000; USF has 49,000; FSU has 42,000; FAU 30,000! You now understand my attraction to small...and Honors Colleges help make giant universities feel smaller. They can also help provide the best educational experience possible at a state university and help students to create a community atmosphere.

What is an Honor’s College?

A good description of an honors college is a small liberal arts college within a large research university. Honors colleges are for high achieving students who enjoy learning and being academically challenged. While honors colleges are usually located at state universities, they have varying programs and requirements, but always provide important benefits to their students.

Since I live in Florida, I’m going to focus on the University of Central Florida’s Burnett Honors College. For the right student, it can be a game changer! UCF is located in Orlando, is the second largest university in the country with almost 56,000 undergraduate students, offers 93 bachelor’s programs, and boasts 10 regional campuses. So the UCF honor’s program with 1,700 total students is a true oasis in such a large institution.

Advantages to UCF’s Burnett Honors College:

Early multi-term registration is available, meaning that in March the honors students sign up for their entire year of classes - summer, fall, and spring! Want a specific professor? Classes at a specific time? Being part of the Burnett Honors College can allow you to obtain the best professors and classes.

Class size for general education classes is smaller, capped at 20 students in general, and at 15 students for English classes. Smaller classes are more engaging, and allow students to not only learn the material but question it, by interacting with their professor and peers. And small classes also allow students to get to know their professors ...useful when they need assistance, to find mentors, or even for that important letter of recommendation.

STEM Students: 70% of the Burnett's Honors students are majoring in STEM fields, with 50% being engineering majors. This allows STEM students to create a social network, study partners/groups, and student mentors.

Burnett provides core research options, and information about research is more accessible to the honors students. This makes the college experience more enriching and also is attractive to graduate schools and future employers.

Networking possibilities: luncheons, how-to workshops, distinguished speakers sessions, social events... These programs allow students to find potential mentors, along with simply gaining more access to important academics in their field of study. In addition, students can meet other students who share their interests.

Dorm specifically for Honors students (Tower 3) which boasts apartment style housing, a printing lab, its own social events – and Rex Roberts (the Burnett Honors Advisor) who holds weekly advising sessions at the dorm. Not only will students be able to make new friends who share their academic interests, but having easy access to the same academic advisor is a true perk.

How do you obtain admission to the UCF Honors College?

You receive an invitation to join the Honors College when you are accepted to UCF, or you can apply. The application deadline is March 31*. The application is made up of a personal statement, your scores and high school transcript, and list of your most important co-curricular activities. Even if you don't meet the criteria outlined below, if you are truly interested, apply and make sure that your personal essay shines.

Criteria for acceptance in 2017:

-Average GPA: 4.4 (core),

-SAT or ACT score: average (new) SAT 1449 (R & M), ACT: 32.

What are the requirements of the UCF Honors College students?

You must take 4 lower division and 4 upper division classes and participate in community service. To remain in the Honors College, you must maintain a 3.0 Honors GPA and a 3.2 UCF GPA.


Honors Colleges in the State of Florida

Honors Colleges in the US

I encourage you to research and apply to honors colleges. The personal statement is a very important part of the application that can set you apart from other students, so make sure yours is the best it can be.

Need assistance with your honors application or essay? Have questions about your college applications? Contact us to set up an appointment.

Read more about Honors Colleges

"A Prudent College Path", Frank Bruni, New York Times

"Public College Honors Programs Give Students VIP Treatment", USNews

"Top Honors Programs 2016", Public University Honors

*This date is subject to change, from year to year

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