Before my Dance lesson today, I was chatting with the owner of the Studio a little bit about my background and the question “What is honors” came up?  It’s an interesting question really when you think about it; I know most of my associates and friends have chosen to affiliate with honors. In my time, I’ve found some dear friends and mentors (I know at least two, will be there a lifetime, most likely).  I know my response to this question was much more quantitative in nature. The classic, smaller classes, so much more you can do. This is a true benefit of honors, since you can’t deny the chance for more interaction between students and faculty would be a benefit of honors, and a characteristic of honors courses with the smaller number, whether it’s 15 or 20 seat cap for the course.

With some of life, I know I’ve grabbed on to honors as a very key self-descriptor, in addition to a few others such as being an Aerospace Brat, a Diver, A Techie, an Operative, and a Homeschooler. But what exactly does Honors mean? The literal definition of an Honors Student would be students who are recognized for high grades or marks, within three possible distinct categories, those that would place or graduate with honors, such as the Deans or President’s List; those students who are or have been involved in an Honors program or Honors College; or those students who are members of honors societies.

If I were to move towards a more qualitative What is Honors to me, more specifically what characteristics, with looking at many of them, they are closely inter-related.

  • A dedication toward Academic Curiosity, you know that throughout your life, you will always be learning. It doesn’t just end with completion of your degree path. On the journey sparked by that curiosity, an Honors student would be an active participant and stakeholder.
  • A dedication toward humility, no matter what the situation, there will always be a bigger fish in your pond, who can do something better than you. That is not an excuse not to give a situation your best, but don’t be the person who buys into your own press.
  • A dedication toward being willing to listen and learn. This would equate closely with the previously mentioned points. There are people brought into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. They all can teach us something whether they have their Ph.Ds, if they are student, or anyone from any background. This also includes respecting the viewpoints of others, right, wrong or indifferent.
  • A dedication toward Scholarship. No, not necessarily scholarships as in dollars coming in (even though that’s always nice), but scholarship as in being a practitioner of the scholarly method.  You will do your homework to make sure what you state is true and defendable. You will cite your sources and give credit where credit is due.

Those characteristics wouldn’t necessarily fit into the first definition of honors. Since any strictly GPA-based system, like an honors roll, just shows that the student knows how to take a test. Which can be a sign of dedication, or not. It is a path you choose to follow, not necessarily an easy one, nor is any other path. I would say it is often encouraged by Honors Societies and Honors Programs. I know in my journey, I have been mentored along a path that would encourage many of those ideals, or at very least, that’s my take away.

As always, I aim to be a Gentleman and a Scholar.