When I found out that I was accepted into the BC Honors College, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. It ended up being one of the best academic experiences I had at BC. To help dispel some common doubts, I’ve broken down the honors program into its main components. Knowing what to expect would’ve helped me to be much less apprehensive; hopefully my advice can clarify what being an honors student really entails.
Being a student in the Arts and Sciences Honors College means that you will take a double credit seminar in both the fall and spring semesters of your freshman year. These classes are about 10 to 15 people in size and are completely discussion based. The professors are there simply to pose questions on the readings and facilitate dialogue between you and your classmates. This is definitely daunting for the first week, but after some time, you’ll grow comfortable with the structure of the class and expressing your opinion won’t feel nearly as intimidating. Aine McGovern, A&S’17, agrees with saying “The classes are small and discussion orientated, which allows the students to form a close bond with each other and their teacher over the course of the year.”
As you’ll learn throughout your time at BC, professors will make or break a class. The best resource you have to help decide if a professor is right for you is BC PEPS, where previous students post reviews on teachers based on their own experiences. In the honors college, you will have your professor for the entirety of your freshman year, and they will also act as your academic advisor. I found this to be a valuable resource because I became very comfortable with my professor, Professor Mattis, and was able to come to her with any and all academic concerns that I had throughout the year. Some professors are harder or easier than others, but overall, they are some of the smartest faculty at BC and have a lot to offer.
One of the best parts of the honors college is that it really provides an opportunity for you to get to know your classmates on a deeper level than normally possible in lectures. While the people in my honors class were not always the people with whom I spent my free time, they were invaluable in helping me do well in class and grow intellectually. Through my peers, I was exposed to a variety of religious, social and political views, and I learned how to defend my own opinions. I can truly say that they taught me as much as my professor did.
The biggest question people have when accepted into the honors college is, “How hard is it?” I have found that the answer depends on how hard you are willing to work. The honors seminars require a pretty heavy reading load each week, but the amount and length of the papers you will write depends on your professor. My experience is that the key to doing well is to do the readings as much as you can, but more importantly to pay attention and be active in class. Sometimes the readings are too lengthy or challenging to completely comprehend, but your professor will emphasize what he or she deems important in class. Caroline Repetti, A&S ’17, said, “ If you are pre-med, your seminar is a highlight in your schedule because it will likely be your only non-science/math class.” Professors and peers are also great resources to help with longer papers. As long as you stay caught up on work and absorb as much as you can each week, the workload is manageable.
Honors housing for freshman is located in Medeiros on Upper Campus and is not mandatory for students in the honors college. One main benefit of choosing Medeiros is that you are guaranteed to live on Upper rather than Newton. In addition, the rooms are a bit larger than the average double and the atmosphere is more subdued than a regular dorm. Medeiros resident Laura Loftus, A&S ’17, stated, “Many people in honors housing develop bonds and are able to collaborate with others outside of class.” I opted out of honors housing and was very happy with my decision. I found that living in a regular dorm allowed me to branch out and make a wider group of friends than I probably would’ve encountered in Medeiros. However, BC is diverse enough that no matter where you live, there will be people around you with whom you can connect.