Why I Chose Honors
by Lexie Newhouse
Maybe I was looking for an excuse to escape to the city, but for the sake of my high school guidance counselor, it was a necessary school visit to help me in my college decision process. I visited Georgia State University five times between my junior and senior year of high school. I like to think I hold the record – if not for greatest number of visits – for being the most indecisive high school senior when it came to college decisions.
My college tour experience mirrored a paddle ball – a ball attached to a string attached to a paddle. I could never go too far without returning. I would visit one university, then come back to Georgia State. Back and forth. But I finally realized Georgia State was truly home.
The Honors College was a key differentiator when considering my options. Of all the colleges I toured, Georgia State was the only one that recognized how tough of a decision it could be and provided me with the resources to fully come to my own conclusion.
The Honors College tour guides I had as a junior and senior that answered all (and I mean all 394,000) of my questions? Still friends with them. Just now, they’re not students. They’re working full-time, traveling the world, and solving the problems of tomorrow, today. It was such an authentic community even before I was enrolled as student.
I applied early to Georgia State, and I recommend others to do the same, especially if they are interested in being a part of the Honors College. Unlike a lot of colleges, there is not a separate application process for the Honors College. All prospective students applying to Georgia State are evaluated for admission into the Honors College. I received notification of my acceptance to Georgia State and the Honors College on my birthday, with a merit-based scholarship attached. As a student that would be paying for their entire education on their own, it was the best birthday gift I could’ve ever asked for.
And the Honors College has several other opportunities to support students not only with admission scholarships but with specific Honors College scholarships, advisement, and experiences. I was fortunate enough to receive the Madison Roarabaugh McLester scholarship to support the continuation of my studies. The Honors College also offers advisement for national scholarships and fellowships, where, through the support of the Honors advisors, I made it as a semifinalist for the Fulbright Summer Institute program my freshman year.
When navigating classes and course schedules, the academic advisors are another amazing resource to the Honors College. Alphabetized by last name, you’re likely going to have the same advisor throughout your college career, making it easy to develop a personal relationship with them. Words cannot describe how helpful it can be having the ability to knock on Fritz Kroncke’s door anytime I have a question or just want to chat. Actually, the entire Honors College has an open-door policy, so finding someone to talk to is never a problem. Maybe I take advantage of this too much – but because of it, the Honors College is truly my family at Georgia State.
Like the Honors staff, the Honors professors are equally as wonderful. Whenever there’s an Honors course or section available within my major, I sign up for it without hesitation! (And as an Honors student, you have priority registration for classes.) I find those classes typically have less busy-work and are more intellectually stimulating. Plus, it’s easier to form connections with your professor and fellow classmates. Every summer job I held was actually a direct result of me enrolling in an Honors course or section. Honors professors recognize your eagerness for a challenge and are there to support you every inch of the way, especially with external research, study abroad, volunteer, or employment opportunities.
During the fall and spring semesters though, I work in the Honors College as a University Assistant. The University Assistantship Program (UAP) is another program exclusive to the Honors College. This position pays $10,000 across your four years at Georgia State and allows you to gain real-life work experience, whether it be in your typical office setting or in a research lab. Beyond the UAP, the Honors College also has dedicated staff to assist students with obtaining internships. The London Experience is a great example of that.
As a Media Entrepreneurship major, I love being able to pick up side media work in addition to my jobs. Truly, it would not be possible without the help of the Honors College. My freshman year, I rented (for free!) an Honors College laptop and have kept it since. Here I have access to all the photo and video editing software I could possibly need. It seriously is a game-changer. Not to mention the penny printing available in the Honors College Computer Lab, which is a steep discount compared to the library’s prices.
And although I may not have a science lab-based UAP or a STEM major, there are still tons of opportunities for research. The Honors College organizes the Georgia State Undergraduate Research Conference (GSURC), an annual conference where undergraduate students of all disciplines can present their research. The Honors College also has a research journal called DISCOVERY if you’re also looking to have your research published. Honors students can apply for grants from the Honors College to help subsidize the cost of presenting at said research conferences across the state, nation, and world!
Last semester, I received funding to present my research on to private sector and higher education collaboration within the creative media space at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research. For my senior year, I’ll be working on my Honors Thesis, which focuses on developing and implementing government incentives to attract startups to Atlanta. Hopefully this means more research conferences to come!
The Honors College also understands that you’re a student – a student who balances a challenging course load with internships, leadership roles, community service, and any other responsibilities you may have. They care not only for your professional being, but for your personal being as well. Things like their Chick-Fil-A breakfasts for finals week and free tickets to shows at the Rialto help you regain that balance and find some time for self-care. Something I’ve come to learn is so important!
Between the people, experiences, and resources, joining Georgia State and the Honors College was without a doubt one of the best decisions of my life. It’s truly home. And even if it takes you five campus visits to realize it, well, I’ve been there!
If you don’t make it into the Honors College as an incoming, first-year student and still want to take advantage of these amazing opportunities, there’s another way. Enrolled Georgia State students who have a 3.5 GPA and at least 24 credit hours can apply again in the spring for admission to the Honors College. Trust me, it’s worth it!