by Jeff Balash, computer science engineering major
Honors classes have a bad reputation in the minds of most college students. Unfortunately they are rumored to be more difficult and assign more work than regular classes. I think this misunderstanding comes from college students equating honors classes to the Advanced Placement (AP) classes they either heard about or experienced in high school. I was guilty of this myself before experiencing honors classes first hand: after a few weeks, my false perceptions had faded away.
Taking an honors class has been a big departure from my AP classes of high school. The main difference is that honors classes are simply not AP classes at all. You are not handed busy work when you walk into the room, but instead engage with the class. For example, in my honors composition class we usually start off with a discussion about the projects we have been assigned or the books we have been reading. The teacher uses class time effectively to explain the material and make sure that the students understand it. The work that we are assigned in class is meant to help us understand and help us with the bigger projects we are assigned. Also, most of the lecturing is actually done online and at our own pace. There is no worrying if you may have missed something like you would in an AP lecture. The material you are given to read does not waste your time. It is clear and to the point and helps us to understand the bigger picture of the class.
Overcrowding is an issue that can happen in AP classes, but in honors courses the class size is usually smaller. My honors composition class only has seven people in it and my pubic speaking class only has nineteen members in it. The small group size allows me to get to know my classmates a lot better and I get more one on one help from the instructor. The smaller sizes help to make students not feel like just a face in a crowd or a number on a roll sheet. The students in the course are also more willing to help one another out and there is more of a sense of camaraderie that comes from the smaller number of students.
I understand that all of us are just trying to survive college and get all of our assignments done, but don’t let a misinformed fear keep you from obtaining a worthwhile experience from college. While honors classes may seem scary, I can honestly say that being in an honors class has been one of the best decisions I have made. You don’t have to be a Sheldon Cooper to get in on this great opportunity.