Honors colleges offer several benefits for students within a public, state-funded college. Students attending an honors college may benefit from smaller classes, a more rigorous curriculum similar to private, costly universities, more housing options and a positive boost to your resume. There's a limited number of students admitted into the honors college each year, therefore you may also enjoy the tight-knit community feel within the group.
While the criteria for eligibility into an honors college may vary, the guidelines for most are aligned with the four pillars of the National Honor Society (scholarship, service, leadership and character) and your ability to write an effective admissions letter for acceptance. Your high school transcripts will show your academic ability; however, the letter will put a spotlight on your overall abilities and why you'd be a good fit for the school.
Open With an Introduction
The opening paragraph of an admissions letter to an honors college should give the reader an overview of who you are, your interests, areas of strength and why you're well-suited for the school. To establish this paragraph, it may be a good idea to brainstorm ideas and jot things down on paper. Choose the things you want to highlight and focus on those. You'll want to include your grades, standardized test scores, participation in extracurricular activities, service or leadership organizations and, importantly, membership in high school honor societies.
Expand on Your Accomplishments
Take a few paragraphs to further explain your accomplishments and the specific things you want the admissions office to know about you. This is your time to shine, so don’t be shy about sharing your successes. You may want to give specific examples or share a personal story. It's critically important to always be honest. It’s better to have a few honest things to report than to have several things listed that aren’t completely true. More often than not, dishonesty shows through and you won't outsmart the admissions officers.
Share Your Future
The school you're applying to wants to know if you're compatible with the overall program and what you have to offer. Take some time to think about how you fit into the school’s mission or vision and how you can carry it out during college and beyond. This is where you can share an engaging story or life event that has shaped who you are and what you hope to become.
Close With Confidence
It’s always a good idea to recap what you've written and restate why you're a good match for the school. Briefly review your scholarship, service, leadership and character. Extend your appreciation for consideration for admission and close with an appropriate salutation.
A few things to keep in mind while writing your honors college admissions letter include basic writing practices. Check and double check spelling and grammar. Be sure to check mechanics and usage, too. Avoid awkward language or current, informal slang. Don’t use clichés and overly generalized statements as they rarely go over well. If you're in doubt, have someone review and edit prior to officially submitting your letter and application.
Melanie Forstall has a doctorate in education and has worked in the field of education for over 20 years. She has been a teacher, grant writer, program director, and higher education instructor. She is a freelance writer specializing in education, and education related content. She writes for We Are Teachers, School Leaders Now, Classroom, Pocket Sense, local parenting magazines, and other professional academic outlets. Additionally, she has co-authored book chapters specializing in providing services for students with disabilities.