What are you looking for in a college experience? Maybe you want small class sizes, a tight-knit community, and close relationships with professors. Maybe you’re hoping to live on a campus with loads of school spirit, big-time sports, and access to top research opportunities. Typically, you can’t get all of that in one place—except at a public university’s honors college! Here are our top five reasons to consider applying.

1. Access to a Top Research University

Honors colleges can combine the best of small liberal arts communities and top-ranking research universities. Students have close, personal access to faculty who are among the best in the world, as well as state-of-the-art facilities and ample research grants. As Paul Gilmore, Rutgers Honors College Administrative Dean, puts it, “It’s hard to [gain that accessibility] when you’re one of 30,000 undergrads, but when you’ve been handpicked for this program, it’s a different experience.”

2. A Tight-Knit Community

Students love the tight-knit communities they find within honors colleges. You’ll find yourself among students with unique talents and individuality, and be able to connect with others who want to make an impact and are passionate about something bigger than themselves. Additionally, some of these programs offer (or require) honors housing. UConn’s Honors Program boasts five residential living communities that are a “cornerstone of the Honors experience, [where students] support each other academically and socially.” There, you’ll find students discussing class projects, engaging with faculty, and holding extracurricular meetings. But most of all, they’re making lifelong friends.

3. Alumni Network

Your school’s alumni network is one of your most valuable tools. Public universities cast huge nets with the size of their alumni networks. University of Wisconsin has over 400,000 living alumni, and Penn State has over 673,000. When comparing those numbers to that of the Ivies, the difference in size is substantial. Princeton’s alumni network includes only about 94,000 living alumni, even though it consistently ranks as the strongest. According to US News, eight of the top ten CEOs on the Fortune 500 list are graduates of public colleges. The size of these networks is impressive and significant!

4. Affordability

The overall affordability of college is an important factor in feeling secure in your decisions. Consider your plans: How many years of school do you see in your future? Do you plan to attend grad school? If so, the affordability of a public university would be a plus, since you’re likely to have higher overall educational costs. Dr. Peggy Johnson, Dean of Penn State’s Shreyer Honors College, says, “The financial factor is huge. Honors College students have a debt of about $10,000 less than the regular Penn State student.” With an honors college, you’re getting a high-caliber education combined with affordability.

5. A Diverse Community

If diversity is important to you, a public university would be a great fit. Honors college applicants vary greatly in socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, religion, and more. In addition, the wide range of academic interests creates an interdisciplinary environment. By immersing yourself in a diverse living and learning community, you’re preparing to become a global citizen by promoting mutual respect and teamwork with those from different backgrounds than your own. Honors colleges are an opportunity to be at the leading edge of an institution that fosters a diverse community. If you have further questions about making your college decision, contact Collegiate Gateway – we’re always happy to help!