Should I take honors classes?

Hello all!
I aced Bio 1 last semester, and I applied to take Honors Bio 2. I won’t find out until sometime in January if I got in, but I am debating withdrawing my application. The timing of the classes is really difficult for me, since it is in the middle of the day 3 days a week, and I work full time.
I applied since I thought the format of the class was more interesting (you read papers and discuss them, rather than just listen to lectures and read the book), and because I thought it might look good on my application.
Would it look that much better for me to get an A (I hope) in an honors class, than in the regular Bio 2 class?
Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you,

I’m a little confused by your question…I’ve never heard of an undergraduate college that offered “honors” classes like high schools offer.
If you are in fact wondering about honors high school classes, I would recommend the following strategy:
1. Absolutely positively take honors math and science classes.
2. Whatever you do, don’t take honors English, History, etc courses. (I speak from experience - I did take all those classes as honors classes and I thought it was a waste of time that involved don’t a lot of irrelevant busy work that is of zero benefit in the long run and might even interfere with your learning the important stuff).
3. If your high school offers some vo-tech courses, even consider those. If you learn how to change your own oil in auto mechanics, you’ll have acquired a skill that will save you $20-$30 dollars every two months for the rest of your life. If you learn how to cook in home economics, you’ll have acquired a skill that might keep you from burning down your house someday.
Success in the academic world - as in all things - requies being a good tactician. That means knowing what you have to accomplish, what resources you have to accomplish it, and how to best expend those resources to get where you’re going.
Two simple examples:
- I’m taking Biology and Organic Chemistry this year. Organic Chemistry is a more difficult class that requires more studying and reading. I only have so many hours in a week, so I spend more time on Orgo.
- Someone running a long distance race knows not to start out at a dead sprint and run out of steam, but to conserve energy and run at top speed only when needed.
Don’t waste time that you could be using to improve yourself making endless posters and other (pardon my French) crap for honors classes in the humanities.

Some colleges do offer honors classes in the sciences. My school has an honors Gen Chem II which I took and loved. The difficulty of the material wasn’t any different than the regular gen chem II but we had an additional requirement of listening to lectures by each of the Chemistry dept faculty about their research and then writing a two-page summary of that lecture. Then we had a totally different lab then the regular gen chem II classes. Instead of doing “cookie-cutter” experiments and filling in prewritten report forms, we synthesized a couple different compounds over the semester and then analyzed their properties. At the end we had to turn in a lab notebook and also write a full journal type paper about what we had done that semester.
I personally loved my experience in honors gen chem II. I learned a lot about the different chemistry disciplines and loved doing a lab that had meaning and built on what we had done the previous weeks instead of just doing something for the sake of learning how to do it.
Do I think it will really be a benefit on my med school application? Not really, although it may be helpful if I need to do a masters first. I do think it had major personal benefits tho. We were a class of 20 students instead of 70 or so, and we all got very close during the semester and still study together to this day in our other classes. We have an easier time getting research positions because we’ve done more of the techniques that are used in the labs and know how to keep our own notebooks and even write our own papers. All of the professors in the department know us so it will be easier to get those LOR’s and get good LOR’s when the time comes.
I don’t know that the honors Bio II class will offer the same benefits that my honors gen chem II class did, but if your job will give you the flexibility you need to do it I say go for it. It will most likely hold your interest better, making that A easier to achieve. If, however, your job won’t offer the flexibility that is needed I wouldn’t worry about it too much. All of the benefits I mentioned can certainly be taken care of in other ways.
Good luck!
–Jessica, UCCS

Jessica has nailed it! The possible benefits of taking the honors section are the smaller class, the potential future advantages for LORs, research, faculty contacts, AND most importantly, more fun in the class. It won’t be any more impressive on a transcript, so do NOT do it for that reason.
If the schedule really doesn’t fit with your work, don’t sweat it. With some good self-promotion and networking you can probably attain those other benefits without being in that class. (minor example: the o-chem lecturer when I took it also did one lab section which I made SURE I was in, so that when she wrote an LOR for me, she knew me well as one of a handful of students rather than a face in a 100-person lecture.)