Should You Do Honors College?
College Life |  Source: @amsaaj

Should You Do Honors College?

Just another one of those college decisions to make.

Applying to be a part of Honors College is one major decision college students make. Being apart of your school's Honors College can help you tremendously throughout your college career but there are also drawbacks.

Whatever the case, there are many things to consider before deciding whether or not to be a part of Honors College.

Do You Meet The Entry Requirements?
Every school's Honors College is different, but most require at least a 3.35 GPA and less than 72 college credit hours. There may be slight differences between colleges, but basically, you've got be a relatively good student in terms of academics.

If you're a freshman trying to enter your school's Honors College, factors like your SAT score, your GPA, and a possible essay question come into play when trying to meet the requirements of the Honors College.

Can You Handle The Requirements?
Once you're in Honors College, there are things you've got to do to keep your place in Honors College; earning Honors credit. Honors credit is credit you get for doing things in the Honors College. Things like taking honors courses, studying abroad, doing an honors thesis, etc.

It's important that you make sure that you can handle the requirements that not only regular college demands, but also those that the Honors College demands. Because while Honors College is rewarding, it's also a lot of work.

Do You Think It Will Be Beneficial?
Let's be honest, no one wants to do something that won't help them in some way. So that's why there are perks to being in the Honors College. At my school, those in the Honors College get to register for classes first, get tickets to events, can live in the Honors only dorm, and the Honors College class size is smaller.

Besides these perks, being in your school's Honor College can help you intellectually by stimulating discussions and furthering your thinking. So if you think that the Honors College will benefit you, definitely try for it.

Do You Want To Do It?
This is the most important question to ask before applying for your school's Honors College. Is this something you really want? Ultimately, it will be you in the Honors College fulfilling the requirements and reaping the benefits.

So before you apply, make sure you are wanting to do this for you, and only you. If pressure is coming from outside sources to be a part of the Honors College, don't allow it to make a decision that you aren't fully sure about. Choose to do the Honors College because you want to, not because anyone else wants you to.

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Things To Consider Before Doing Honors

Is it worth it?

Congrats! You've worked your ass off your first three years of college, and you got invited to participate in honors! No sarcasm -- pat yourself on the back for that one because lord knows college can be a stressful, anxiety-inducing four years when it comes to the classroom. Who am I kidding, and the social aspect too.

But when it comes to actually accepting and doing honors senior year... is it worth it? Granted, every department and university has different procedures for honors, but more or less you're inevitably going to be dedicating a serious amount of time to writing a thesis and preparing a defense. Yikes.

Despite having two majors and two sports, I decided to do honors my senior year. While I'm glad I did it and *somehow* survived, there are things that I wish people had told me to consider before I took the plunge.

Things to consider before applying to Honors:

Are you already overcommitted?
I'd say about half the people who did honors in my major were largely there because they're natural overachievers that want to participate, full potential, in pretty much every activity possible. That's great! But when you have a thesis that requires hours and hours of research, you're not going to have that much time to do all your passions.

Are you part-time?
Literally the ONLY reason I was able to complete my thesis was that I was part-time my second semester, freeing up my available time to stay in the library for hours on end.

How important is having a social life?
You laugh, but this is serious! Especially when you get to second semester senior year and you're just READY to throw the towel in.

What's your reason for doing it?
Are you doing it only to get that "Honors" printed on the diploma? Or worse: because your parents said you should? You're gonna have to cut the cord eventually, might as well start with this one. Plus, I've found that having that "Honors" tagged to the front of my degree really hasn't helped at all in the job department.

Are you passionate about your topic?
You will be living and breathing your research topic. In order to not go insane your final year of college, either from boredom, frustration, or a combination of the two, you have to be doing research on something that genuinely interests you. Otherwise, what's the point?

Are you self-disciplined?
When your friends are all rallying around you to go out, complete with shots being shoved directly in your face, are you STRONG ENOUGH TO RESIST?! To say no and stick to your schedule? Because no one will be there to parent and enforce the deadlines every week.

While these sound like a bunch of negatives, and I definitely had a very sleep deprived second semester, I'm so glad I decided to do honors. It's an incredible achievement and self-rewarding in many ways. Plus, you'll come out an expert in your topic, and that's pretty damn cool.

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A Harvard Student Submitted A Rap Album For His Senior Thesis

Spoiler Alert: he graduated with honors.

When most people think about a senior thesis, they think of an important essay, or maybe an elaborate creative project. Most people don't think of a rap album, especially not at a prestigious Ivy League school such as Harvard University. However, one student submitted just that for his senior thesis... and he ended up graduating with honors because of the project.

Obasi Shaw is an undergraduate student at the school. At Harvard, a senior thesis isn't required in order to graduate. However, it is required in order to graduate with honors. Because of his album, Shaw was able to graduate summa cum laude minus, which is the second highest grade in the English department. Until Shaw, no student had ever submitted a rap album before.

Shaw was inspired to write and record the album by his mother, who recognized his talents for rapping. Despite the unconventional format of his senior thesis, Shaw claims that it isn't too far off from what other students might be submitting. "Poetry and rap are very similar. Rhyming poems were very common in old English poetry," Shaw told the Harvard Gazette.

His album, titled Liminal Minds, displays Shaw's love of old English poetry, as it is modeled after the format of The Canterbury Tales, written by Geoffrey Chaucer. According to Josh Bell, his thesis advisor, Shaw "is telling stories in each song from different points of view, and it's critical of American society and racial politics. But above all that, it's a fun and interesting album."

As for the music itself, the album is actually quite nice. While it might not have the best beats and instrumentals, and has "amateur mixing", according to his Soundcloud, it's Shaw's lyrics that really matter.

After all, it's really the lyrics that earned him his graduation honors. Shaw found rap to be a genre where he could truly express himself, and it shows in the album. "Rap is a genre in which I can say everything I want to say. I've been writing in different capacities, but I never felt that I found my art form until I started rapping," the English major told the Harvard Gazette.

After graduation, Shaw will begin to work at Google as a software engineer. Despite this, there's no doubt that Shaw will continue to express himself with his rap music.

You can check out his senior thesis below!

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Top 3 Apps For The Productive College Student

Best friends with procrastination? Don't stress.

There's a little bit of slacker in all of us but with modern technology and dope apps, getting your life in check isn't as hard as it seems. From tasks to planners and countdowns, your app store could definitely help you get your life together.

Google Keep

Who it's for: If you like taking down lists of upcoming to-do's and reminders, this app is perfect and keeps everything in one place. Also, if you're a visual person, Google Keep lays out all your notes, which are viewable all at once.

Why it's great: It's universal. Whether you have an Android, Google, Mac or Windows device, Google Keep is easy enough to access and sync on multiple devices. It gets better. Each tab or sticky note can be color coded to match specific reminders, tasks or notes.

When to use it: If you're not into carrying around a planner, Google Keep can replace your everyday journal. The best use for the app is to leave yourself upcoming reminder or to compile to-do lists. If you're a little more organized and tend to have multiple notes for various occasions (school, work, personal), I def recommend color coding to keep yourself more organized.

Wunderlist

What it is:
Wunderlist is a more simple version of Google Keep and is perfect for those who enjoy lists. If you're a less visual learner, Wunderlist will help keep your notes and reminders in one long list and you can tick them off as you complete them.

Why you should try it out:
Wunderlist is extremely user friendly and gives you the ability to set reminders, which is perfect for those with a busy schedule. If you are more of a collaborative person and use a planner for work or projects, Wunderlist gives you the ability to share your lists with others.

How it's all in one:
Wunderlist is a dope app that pretty much combines a planner, to do lists, reminders and a calendar into one easy to use app that is free on the app store. For sure forgetful people, Wunderlist sends push notifications to your device that will remind you about upcoming deadlines or events. I totally recommend this app for busy, on the go people!

Evernote

Who it's for:
Def worth downloading this app if you don't like using notebooks to take notes in class. Evernote is a handy app that puts all your notes together but adds in the ability to create sketches and set reminders.

Why students should use it:
Evernote keeps your notes forever in a clean and modern system. Like many other softwares, Evernote can be downloaded on multiple devices and syncs to all of them. So, if you need to use your laptop during one class and your tablet during another, you can still add onto the previous set of notes.

The benefits:
No more losing your messy notebooks, no more coffee stains that screw up your notes and no more uneraseable doodling. Evernote is every college student's necessity and definitely will help you organize your notes for when finals approach.

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No Ceilings: Pushing The Limits Of Your Comfort Zone

Break out of your comfort zone before it breaks you.

I remember being a freshman in college, forcefully faking an expression of belief on my face as a motivational speaker hired by my university preached to my graduating class about how college would break us all out of our shells. Behind that trusting facade was absolute disbelief and a lot of mental eye-rolling.

I had always been shy. I liked my shell. I had found the perfect balance between blending into the background and maintaining a decent social presence, and I never saw myself breaking through the ceilings I had so carefully constructed for myself over the years.

At that point in my life, I never saw myself becoming a leader. I never saw myself even trying to get an internship, because I simply thought I wasn't capable of wow-ing employers despite my strong GPA. I never joined extra-curricular activities because I was too scared of being that awkward, lonely kid in the corner amidst other people with similar passions.

My fear of failure controlled my life. Although I was confident in some things, like my appearance, those superficial things didn't matter in the long run because they didn't promote personal growth. Instead of challenging myself and risking failure, I stayed inside my little box, denying opportunities that seemed too intimidating.

My second semester freshman year, I remember a professor asking me to read a paper I had written at an upcoming seminar. Too scared of tripping over my words in front of an audience, I denied the offer. And, even though I was playing it safe, I remember regretting it.

Why couldn't I be proud of my accomplishments and push myself to achieve more?

Something finally clicked in my mind when I studied abroad during the fall semester of my sophomore year. Overseas, in a country where hardly anyone spoke English, I was constantly challenged. Just finding the correct subway line was a struggle.

Facing and overcoming daily obstacles, no matter how insignificant they may have been, truly made me realize that I was capable of so much more than blending into the background. I explored newfound passions like photography, and even started writing for an online blog.

In a nutshell, I stopped caring what people thought about me and my interests and understood the thrill in conquering challenges that previously seemed impossible.

Fast-forward to now. The girl who used to think she would never get an internship is now a second-time intern hosting conference calls with companies overseas. She's the president of her major's honors society, and she doesn't give a flying you-know-what about what people think of her "out-there" outfits.

I'm not looking for applause or anything. In fact, I still don't think my achievements are that noteworthy. I just hope that other students currently rolling their eyes at their school's motivational speakers realize that, if they push themselves out of their comfort zones one step at a time, they will realize just how much they are truly capable of achieving.

If I can gain so much self-confidence just from taking a few minor steps towards breaking the barriers I set for myself, I am positive that others can, too.

New motto: be like a rooftop bar and have no ceilings.

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Why You Should Take a Gap Year

There's no time like the present.

YOCO. You only college once. You only have four years of undergraduate schooling to make lifelong friends, drink cheap beer, and be a young and free adult. What happens after college? You get a job or an internship and start working while you work your way up in the industry until you retire 50 years later.

OK, maybe that was a bit dramatic, but in a sense, it's true. Once you are done with college, unless you go back for graduate school, you almost always get a job and that's where your fun, carefree life full of Natty Light and rooftop parties begins to come to a halt.

But is doesn't have to be that way. This is the time to do all those things that you have always wanted to do. Stop saying, "Oh I'll do it someday when I'm older." Chances are it won't ever happen if you keep saying that.

Before you take that internship that you don't really want, or before you take that job that doesn't really interest you, think about what you really want to do in order to make yourself happy and the places you've always wanted to go.

Graduate with your class, go party with your friends, and take a gap year. A lot can happen in one year, and you can discover unimaginable, beautiful things about yourself. We have our whole lives to work. Why not just take one year for us?

Why not travel to California and see the Hollywood sign if that's what you've always wanted? Why not buy a ticket to go to London and see Big Ben? Why not visit Belize or Panama? Why not bike across the United States? Why not? We are so young. Why not do these things now?

I spent four months studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, and that was all it took for me to understand how important it is to make your dreams a reality. You learn things that cannot be taught in a classroom; you learn things about yourself that you didn't even know existed; and you discover what it really feels like to live and be free.

Go see the world. There is too much out there for it to be left unseen.