When I was first presented with the invitation to enroll in The Honours College, I was hesitant, not fully knowing what it entails and how much of my cherished free time I would have to spend on it. Having regretted not taking advantage of such opportunities in the past, I decided to take the leap of faith and join the Honours College. The admission process was straightforward, consisting of two stages. Firstly, I had to build an application file, which consisted of a CV, motivation letter, university grades up to that point and a recommendation letter from a high school teacher/university professor. Next, I was interviewed by two lovely people, where they asked questions about my past academic experiences, as well as my goals going forward. A lot of emphasis was placed on what I can offer to The Honours College Community, but also on how I expect The Honours College will help me achieve my professional and educational objectives. About a week later, I was very content to hear that I had been accepted!
The Honours College courses fall into The Deepening Module (aimed at expanding upon knowledge in the same field as my regular degree, which is Communication and Information Studies, within the Faculty of Arts), The Broadening Module (aimed at, as the name suggests, broadening my academic horizons through courses offered by other faculties within RUG), Skills Modules (which are courses focused on one specific skill, such as debating, writing or creative problem solving), and Pick-Your-Own-Talent Workshops. The first year courses began in Semester 2b, with The Deepening Module course “Power of Words” which explored notions of ancient rhetoric and taught students how to apply them to modern day speeches, such as the “I have a dream” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Simultaneously, I chose to do a Skills Module called “Being Persuasive”, which taught students the structure and intricacies of a debate, which happened weekly and the variety in motions was remarkable.
I am presently a second year Honours College student, therefore I am yet to experience the full extent of the great opportunities presented to students. The second year signifies, however, the start of The Broadening Module. For me, I chose a course titled “Why do people commit crimes”, a highly theoretical, yet fascinating subject which I take great interest in. Additionally, both my Skills Module and Deepening Module courses of choice focused on writing, either for academic papers or instances where narrative is required, such as short stories or memoirs. The future holds a mandatory Winter/Summer School for Honours Students, most of which are set in dreamy locations such as Vancouver, London, Suriname, Beijing or Barcelona.
It is of no surprise that Honours students are expected to constantly perform at a high level. Failing one Honours College course might result in being expelled from the program, and acquiring less than 55 credits for your regular degree courses can have the same outcome. It is therefore crucial that anyone who is interested in enrolling in The Honours College is able to maintain their work ethic at a similarly respectable level for both their Bachelor and Honours courses. While I was a bit concerned in my time managing abilities, I quickly realized that as long as I enjoy studying for the subjects presented by both programs, I will successfully fulfill all the deadlines and receive the necessary credit to continue. Moreover, I still find plenty of time for extracurricular activities and my personal social life. I am not much of a party goer, but I do love playing sports, hanging out with friends, or simply chilling on the couch for an entire Sunday. In my experience thus far, I feel the addition of Honours College courses and activities has not lead me to make any sacrifices in these regards.
To summarize, my experiences as an Honours College student have been at times challenging but overall rewarding, as I have learned valuable lessons not only academically speaking, but also concerning time management and work ethic. While not only a highly valuable asset for one’s future career (it certainly is a unique feature in a CV, for example), being involved in The Honours College has also resulted in me expanding my networking skills, which is adamant in today’s socially driven society. I would honestly recommend applying to The Honours College to anyone interested in widening their educational and professional perspective, as well as anyone looking for an extra challenge during their university years.