By Mattie Fitzpatrick | November 14, 2022
The Honors College at the University at Albany is advertised as a “small and supportive community” where “students exercise their intellect…” according to the Honors College webpage – but what really is the Honors College and why does it matter?
State Quad, where Honors College housing is found
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
The Honors College was created in 2006 with the intention of the program being a community for “highly motivated individuals and students who wanted a high-powered academic experience that would prepare them for life after college.”
The concept of an honors college, according to the UAlbany webpage, is created to be an “elite community of highly motivated students” who want to focus on their studies. Students who have a high enough GPA in high school are invited to enroll into the honors college. Freshman and transfer students can also apply for later acceptance through a separate application process.
As their first introduction, freshmen Honors students start off with three days of orientation and an early move-in date to get acclimated. All Honors College students are then required to attend seven events each semester, five of which must be Honors College events.
Part of being a member of the Honors College is access to more resources here on campus such as access to priority registration and honors classes as well as a honors librarian, a dedicated study space in the basement of Steinmetz and Melville, and honors-specific advisors. Students need to take a certain number of honors credits each semester.
“Smaller classes are extremely beneficial. I feel like I can engage with my professor as a person and not just a student,” UAlbany Honors Freshmen Colin Sweet said. “It has helped me learn at a much deeper level.”
Although this requirement works for some students, others are having difficulty finding Honors Courses that pertain to their major.
“...I don't see how anyone can really interpret having to take those extra credits and required events as a fair deal when the only tangible benefit is priority enrollment,” former UAlbany Honors student and junior Maxam Daniels said.
Over the last 16 years, the Honors College has grown on campus to be a community of more than 500 students with three Honors College housing options for students to live in. Steinmetz, Melville and Irving Halls are all labeled as Honors College Houses specifically for Honors underclassmen, while upperclassmen are guaranteed housing in Empire Commons, one of the on-campus apartment complexes.
According to Honors College Dean Dr. David Goldsmith, Irving Hall has been recently introduced into the Honors College housing due to an increase in enrollment.
“Prior to the increase in enrollment all of our students fit in Steinmetz and Melville,” Goldsmith said. “Now Steinmetz, Melville, and part of Irving are considered ‘Honors Housing.’”
The Honors College is certainly not without its academic load. Part of a requirement to graduate from the Honors College is to complete an honors thesis, which for some majors also fulfills the requirements of certain majors’ departmental honors programs. Students get to pick their own topics and are assigned advisors and professors within your department as well as a class in which you work on this thesis.
“I would have most likely dropped the Honors College if it wasn't for the support I got from my department and thesis advisor,” an anonymous student graduating from the Honors College said.
Alongside these requirements, students balance extracurriculars and outside lives. Whether a student decides to enroll in the Honors College or not, each student has unique needs that contribute to positive and negative takeaways to the program.