What We Are Not

Reading about what The Honors College is not can be just as helpful as reading about what we are, when trying to understand who we are and what we do.

We Are Not an Honor Society

The primary goal of many honor societies is to recognize the academic achievements of students in them. Although many honors societies encourage their members to be involved in community or campus activities, these activities are rarely required.

Students in The Honors College also receive recognition for their academic achievement. They are recognized throughout their years at UAlbany through special educational, housing, and social opportunities. They also receive recognition through a special diploma and on their college transcript.

However, involvement in The Honors College goes beyond recognition for past academic achievements. Students are actively involved in the intellectual and social life of the honors community. They take courses from a wide range of disciplines because they recognize that their ability to think broadly about problems presented in every discipline can be influenced by what they learn in other disciplines. They study with and learn from their classmates not just because "many hands make light work" but because "two heads are better than one" when addressing most problems. They take intense courses because they are attracted to intellectual challenge. They engage with other students in the honors residence halls to learn from them and enjoy their company. They attend lectures, discussions, musical events, and sports on campus because they know that learning can occur at each of them.

We Are Not a College for Every High-achieving Student

We do not strive to be a college for every high-achieving student at UAlbany. The education plan and goals of some high-achieving students are better served by pursuing honors in their major, focusing on independent research with a faculty mentor, or pursuing an individualized curriculum than by being a member of the honors community.

Students whose education plan involves a single focus are likely to be unhappy in our honors community that encourages students to spend part of their time pursuing knowledge in a wide range of academic disciplines.

  • This is not to say that students in The Honors College do not have clear, precise educational goals. Many of them have these goals when they arrive on campus as freshmen and many others develop them during their first year or two of college. However, even with a strong professional focus (e.g., pre-med, business, law, social work, education) or a strong disciplinary focus (e.g., physics, psychology, philosophy) students in The Honors College are interested in spending some of their time exploring a range of academic disciplines and participating in educational and social activities that widen their horizons and broaden their ways of thinking.

Students who are in a rush to get through their undergraduate years can be frustrated by the additional requirements they must complete to graduate from The Honors College. Some students plan to spend only three years as an undergraduate and many of these students arrive on campus with many AP credits or other credits that they plan to use to reduce the number of years they spend in college. They may see the honors requirements as impeding their ability to graduate from college in three years.

  • It is possible to graduate from The Honors College in three years, and about a dozen student do each year.  However, careful planning is required. Graduating in three years requires that a student complete the senior thesis during his or her third year, which requires that a mentor be located and a topic chosen before the end of the student's second year.  

Students who find it frustrating to take an honors course that does not meet a General Education requirement or a requirement in their major or minor tend not to be happy in The Honors College.

  • Our students are very bright and usually develop considerable expertise in their chosen academic disciplines while at UAlbany. One goal of The Honors College is to push these bright students in new directions. There are so many exciting things to learn while in college. Bright, serious students who are open to learning in new areas are particularly happy with their honors experiences at UAlbany.