Boise State’s Honors College is an experience that is by no means restricted to academics, focusing on the individual path of each student to provide life changing opportunities to assist students in life, way beyond graduation.
Associate Director Emily Jones has worked with the Honors College for eight years, managing many aspects of the honors program including recruitment, incoming applications and coordinating the Honors 390 courses.
Jones shared that the Honors program is created to enhance a student’s overall academic experience, providing Honors students with unique education opportunities regardless of their area of study.
“We exist to augment and enhance anybody’s academic programming on campus. So we’ve had students from every major at Boise State be a part of the Honors College,” Jones said. “We don’t change what it is that they’re doing within their own degree plans. We’re just enhancing that by providing some additional coursework or some additional academic options.”
The Honors program is flexible and specific to each student and their career path, allowing students to fulfill Honors credits through courses they are already required to take for their specific degrees.
“I think one of the things I love most about our program is that inherent flexibility is the understanding that every student is different and every student needs something very different to enhance their experience of Boise State,” Jones said.
The Honors program also includes a small set of required courses all honors students are expected to take.
“It’s a way for them to get out of there, maybe get out of their academic comfort zone … So we’re not adding lots of extra credits, it ends up just rolling into their elective credits,” Jones said. “It’s a really fun way to do something a little bit differently academically.”
Jones shared that these required courses each have a different goal, many which provide helpful knowledge for life post graduation.
“So we had a number of our alumni years ago come back and say, what I really wish I would have had, at the end of my college experience was this. And a lot of them were talking about experiences that they’re (current Honors students) now getting an Honors 390,” Jones said. “So Honors 390 essentially is the way that we support our students to be thinking about what’s next, and then to be very practically working toward applications for what’s next after graduation.”
Claire Oberg, a recent Boise State alumni, studied through the Honors College all four years and dual majored in elementary education and special education with a minor in American Sign Language. She currently teaches in Anchorage, Alaska, as an elementary extended resource special education teacher.
Oberg praised the high level of flexibility offered in the Honors program and the small class sizes that came with these different opportunities, providing the chance to dive into more content and have more in-depth conversations with classmates.
She emphasized the real world skill building she was able to partake in, preparing her for post-graduation plans and experiences.
“I think one of the biggest tools that I gained from those classes was being able to justify your own thinking. And so being around peers of all different majors, sometimes even different years, I remember being a sophomore a junior in classes with seniors, and so that adds its own kind of element,” Oberg said. “And so post graduation, it really prepares you to justify your own thinking, to be able to think logically about things and to be able to stand for what you think, but also engage in healthy conversations with people who think all different things.”
Oberg shared that personally she was very involved in the Honors College through student leadership and other activities, but emphasized that the Honors College experience is whatever you desire to make of it.
“If you’re in the Honors College, it does not have to be your whole world. You can do lots of other things, or you can make it your whole world. It’s not like a pick one, choose one,” Oberg said. “And so I was also very involved in the College of Education, but it was able to be that dual partnership where I knew that there was support both from peers and faculty across the board.”
Jones shared that specifically for freshman Honors students, the program is especially helpful, providing students with the opportunity to take foundational courses traditionally held in large lecture halls in a smaller class setting, providing a potentially more valuable learning experience.
Freshman students also take the Honors 198 course during their first year, which acts as a “welcome to university life or welcome to honors” education.
In addition, the program provides many social events, including the “house system,” which sorts students into different groups called “houses,” giving them an immediate sense of community and a group to participate in social activities with.
“We are as interested in them thriving outside of the classroom as inside the classroom. And so we provide as much going on outside of the classroom in honors as we do inside the classroom,” Jones said.
Jones shared that the Honors program offers even more opportunities for students to study abroad, partake in service trips, pursue internships, as well as providing continuous service programming, professional development opportunities and academic lectures.
“We don’t just want to create more work. We want our program to be a meaningful experience necessary and helpful,” Jones said.