As a teacher and director of an Honours Programme has said: Honour students are made, not found.
Numerous research studies have been dedicated to learning the factors that set honour students apart from non-honour students. It is now possible to list some characteristics that have been developed over time to make someone the honour student that he/she becomes.
It is most interesting to note that becoming an honour student, like most other kinds of academic success, is first and foremost a personal choice and not an inherited trait. Just like your effort to improve your Maths from a failing grade to a B during A-levels, becoming an honour student takes time and effort to develop certain characteristics, some of which are mentioned below. Very often, these traits not only help successful high-achievers in their academic lives, but also in their everyday personal lives.
1. Desire to Learn
Honour students are often found to have developed a keen interest in life-long learning, besides their academic curriculum. They enjoy and take leisure in learning and related activities such as academic and scholastic reading and writing. Going beyond their regular curriculum, they often take part in further academic activities such as research and professional preparation programmes.
These individuals also tend to be able to apply their academic knowledge in everyday life, making their learning process especially close to their daily activities. Thus, you rarely see them complaining about having too many things to learn, because it’s already part of their lives!
2. Drive to Excel
Honour students have a strong inner motivation to succeed, owing in part to the highly competitive environment they’re in. They are also more motivated to work hard due to the more demanding courses they take. As they see university education as an opportunity to better themselves and prepare for their future professions, they tend to flourish when faced with academic challenges and pressure to outdo themselves and their peers.
Speaking of outdoing, some students encounter difficulties deciding whether to take double degree or double major on top of their regular degrees. Be sure to check out this article to find out which option is best for you!
3. Good Organizational Skills/ Time Management
Since they are required to fulfill such a demanding curriculum, honour students often have good organizational skills and ability to define their priorities. They are also excellent at allocating time and energy to their respective activities. Ever wonder how a buddy of yours is able to achieve a 4.5 CAP, and still maintains the President position of her sports CCA, while at the same time working part-time ten hours a week? Now you understand. She has a monstrously strong sense of organization and time management.
Honour students have been found to possess a keen sense for connections between seemingly unrelated trains of thought, as well as interesting patterns from old ideas. For instance, a friend of mine combined his love for music composition and computer programming to create a stunning simulation and sound environment from eight pre-programmed speakers.
Honour students are also open to new learning experiences. They jump at the chance to study overseas on an exchange programme, or an attachment programme with a renowned research institution. All these activities provide these students the opportunities to implement new ideas, innovative solutions and enhance their university experience.
5. Curiosity/ Inquisitiveness
Curiosity is tightly connected to creativity and desire to learn. Honour students rarely follow their curriculum blindly without questioning and demanding for more knowledge. For this reason, they enjoy being in the company of professors who are willing to impart their knowledge, as well as similarly inquisitive students. This quality enables them to enhance their knowledge and equip them with knowledge outside the curriculum, which eventually sets them even further apart from their peers.
6. Confidence in their ability
Even if they are unsure about certain projects or assignments, honour students have been found to have confidence in their academic ability to tackle the challenges. This may come as a surprise, but it’s also one of the keys to becoming a better student and a better person in general, but is often overlooked.
7. Good Critical Thinking Skills
This may seem like common sense, but good critical thinking skills take practice, and honour students often excel at it. This ability allow them to delve deeper into the matter, evaluate the instructions given to them and identify the best way to execute their strategies. This gives them a better understanding of the academic subject they’re studying and allows them to identify the opportunities often overlooked by others.
8. Ability To Work Independently And Collaboratively
Honour students depend upon themselves as well as the academic community they’re in for their best performance. They are comfortable both working on their own projects as well as working in teams. This wonderful quality allows them to make the best of their university experience, make useful connections and mature as dependable individuals.
9. Tolerance For And Willingness To Take Risks
Embarking on an overseas exchange programme, taking on an internship that comes with a bond, or taking part in a demanding yet rewarding extra-curricular activity, etc. all come with risks. Honour students are often willing to take (calculated) risks with a strategy to better themselves as individuals without hurting their academic performance. Part of this strategy is time management and organizational skills, as discussed above.
10. Willingness To Do The Extra Work
Excellence does not just take time and effort; it takes a lot of time and effort. As such, it is no wonder that our honour student friends are often the ones with the most initiative, most eager to take on a project and complete it with the most stellar reports. They seem to have no problem giving up part of their lunchtime to interview someone for their project, or coming back to school during vacation time for an optional programming module. They know what it takes to excel, and they are willing to conquer it, step by step, little by little.
It it true that anyone can become an honour student, but it doesn’t mean that anyone has to or should become one. As with any successful individual, honour students know what it takes to achieve academic and non-academic excellence, and they are well-prepared to develop the necessary qualities, some of which have been discussed in this article. You can be an honour student too, if you do the same.