UNC Student Interview with Ritushree Dutta | Part 2: The Perks and Pointers of UNC's Honors College
Updated: Feb 17
We interviewed Ritushree Dutta '24, a third-year student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is double majoring in Neuroscience and Medical Anthropology with a minor in Spanish. Ritu is the Founder and CEO of the Neuroscience Foundation, an international non-profit organization that makes neuroscience-related opportunities available for young students. At UNC, she researches the effects of cancer treatment on cognitive function and is working on developing methods to measure these changes. In her spare time, Ritu plays tennis competitively on the UNC Club Tennis team, likes to record song covers, and enjoys time with her friends and family.
Key points from the interview:
"The reason I bring up these details is to make my next point, which is that Honors Carolina evaluators look for students who are open to challenges and have a growth mindset. You should reflect these qualities in your supplemental essay to Honors Carolina..."
" The most special part about Honors Carolina (at least from whatever I have learned about the program) is their networking platform and their exclusive opportunities."
"If you are interested in business, advertising, marketing, or public relations, I’ve seen some employers open internship positions exclusively for Honors Carolina students. "
Q: What opportunities does the UNC Honors program offer?
A: The Honors College at UNC, known as Honors Carolina, offers a variety of different opportunities that benefit students with unique interests and curiosity to explore more.
In addition to getting priority registration times and getting to live in a special Honors dorm freshman year, Honors Carolina offers students exclusive and unique study abroad opportunities that involve field work, research, international exchange programs, and other global experiences. Honors Carolina offers their students a separate online networking platform that contains databases of career-oriented opportunities (some of which are selective for honors students over others) and alumni profiles.
Upon successfully completing the honors curriculum requirements, you can graduate with a separate diploma from Honors Carolina, which I think is an added bonus!
Q: To be qualified for the UNC Honors program or have a chance at being part of this program, what would you say are the strongest qualities in potential applicants?
A: Honors Carolina looks for students who are forward-thinkers.
They look for students who like to go the extra mile to explore something they’re interested in or to make improvements in a field that they feel passionate about. Their motto for the program is “Come Here, Go Anywhere.” Therefore, they will be looking for students who are ready to take their ambitions one step further.
From how I see it, the Honors program at Carolina is first and foremost a recognition of academic talent. Having strong academic records, whether you are a prospective student applicant or you apply once you’re here, is a very important criterion. Having a background in AP courses or taking heavy loads over certain semesters of high school help you show your ability to handle tougher classes. As a student in the honors program, you will be required to take a certain number of honors courses (marked with an “H”), which are significantly more challenging than the regular versions.
The courses cover concepts in much more depth and with pointedly more rigor. You will find yourself in smaller classrooms than the regular class size and will get to know your professors and peers on a much deeper level. I personally enjoy honors courses because I enjoy challenges. I find that I grow the most under pressure and in an environment that not only pushes me, but consistently forces me to remain out of my comfort zone.
The reason I bring up these details is to make my next point, which is that Honors Carolina evaluators look for students who are open to challenges and have a growth mindset. You should reflect these qualities in your supplemental essay to Honors Carolina, bringing up relevant experiences, evidence of growth and willingness to take on challenges with a positive attitude. In summary, if you are someone who is open-minded with difficulties and has the tenacity to handle demanding academic workloads, then Honors Carolina would be a good fit for you!
Q: What are the pros to applying for the UNC Honors program — would you mind giving us an overview of the differences between UNC and UNC Honors for potential applicants looking into this school?
A: Many of my friends are not part of the Honors Carolina program. Many students don’t even consider applying for the honors college.
In reality, these students are not missing out on much. Something that students should understand is that programs offered by universities, whether that be their honors college or other scholarship programs, are very grounded in their programming. The most special part about Honors Carolina (at least from whatever I have learned about the program) is their networking platform and their exclusive opportunities.
That being said, a merit scholarship at UNC could also give you its own version of exclusive opportunities. In other words, if you are not in the honors college, you may more than likely find similar opportunities elsewhere within the university.
There isn’t much of a difference between UNC’s general college and its honors program. Students in both colleges are eligible to take courses designated as “honors.” However, priority is given to Honors Carolina students during course registration, and there are usually few to no spaces available for non-honors students. Honors students get priority course registration times (I love this perk!), which means that you get access to courses during registration periods earlier than most of your peers.
If you are interested in business, advertising, marketing, or public relations, I’ve seen some employers open internship positions exclusively for Honors Carolina students. That being said, I don’t want you to think that it would disadvantage you in any way if you were not an honors student. My best friend, who is not an Honors Carolina student, spent her summer gaining experience through a prestigious internship with Fidelity!
Being part of Honors Carolina is also a status that showcases your academic talent. Usually, students who make it into the program graduate at the top of their class from high school. You graduate UNC with a separate diploma from Honors Carolina as an Honors Carolina Laureate, which would certainly look shiny on a résumé. I’ve discussed earlier about the honors programs that are offered. But remember, you can still find great study abroad opportunities within the UNC Study Abroad office.
At the end of the day, I believe choosing to apply to Honors Carolina was a really good decision for me. I got to experience many things while enjoying the perks the program offers. I would highly recommend you to apply to the program if it feels like the right fit for you!
Thanks for reading!
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