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Honors designation

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I choose not to label any of my classes as "honors" since it implies that my other classes are not honors.

It would be easy for me to label and justify that AoPS precalculus is an honors precalculus course, but it would be harder to prove that my homegrown English course is also honors even if it is just as rigorous as a well-known course. I've left off all designations except outsourced AP courses.

Edited by Julie of KY
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Can't think of a downside… But… I would take into consideration a few things when making this decision:


- Make sure it really is "honors" level.

(Honors means things like:

more material

move through the material at a faster pace

more rigorous textbook / coursework

more writing on tests, research papers, etc.

more projects

more higher-level discussion

harder tests/papers/projects, requiring more in-depth analysis and higher-level thinking

less handholding by teacher / more independent working and taking responsibility by the student

optional: midterm and semester end tests may be weighted to be worth more of the overall semester grade than for a regular class.)


- As much as possible, make sure the rest of the student's transcript supports the student working at Honors level.

(In other words, the student takes other Honors courses in other subject areas, as possible, but especially, the student continues to build on Honors level in their strong subject area, and NOT coast. So if the student takes Honors English in 10th grade, then the student can likely branch out and try Honors History courses (which also require similar strengths in reading, writing, and discussion/analysis. But esp., the student should take equally high or higher English classes for 11th and 12th grades: Honors English; AP English; or dual enrollment college class English. The student would NOT go back to regular English for 11th and 12th grades -- unless the student experiences a serious set-back, such as long illness or injury recovery,  or a family crisis circumstance.)


- Don't bother with the Honors designation if the student didn't score an A or B in the Honors class.

(Getting a "C" or "D" looks average or bad on a transcript, whether the class was Honors or not. Instead, if the student scores low, but really tried hard, and if there was a significant jump in volume and rigor of material from regular to Honors, I would be tempted to re-grade the student's material and grant bonus points for all the extra material (which would likely boost the student's low grade) and call the class a regular (non-Honors) class.)


- Don't expect Honors classes to increase odds of college admission or college scholarships.

(Because Honors designation varies so widely from school to school, and really vary for homeschoolers, colleges have no way of knowing exactly how much rigor "Honors" means, so they tend to not weight Honors classes very heavily. If you want that boost for your student, AP test scores are the standard for showing rigor and high level of work. Dual enrollment college courses or CLEP test scores can show advanced level of work as well -- as with Honors classes, it will depend on the college admissions office whether or not these are given much weight or not.)


- Consider the alternatives of test scores to show high level of work, rather than Honors.
(It's hard to alter or argue with national tests as a standard, so high scores on SAT Subject tests, AP tests, and SAT/ACT tests are going to be more valuable in the eyes of college admission offices on the transcript than an Honors designation.) 
I've mostly included reasons why Honors designation might not matter much to colleges. One reason TO put Honors designation is to respect the student and their dedicated work. If your student truly worked extra hard and went extra deep, and did so largely voluntarily and independently, the student deserves permanent transcript acknowledgement of that, IMO.
BEST of luck in your transcript adventures, whatever you decide. :) Warmest regards, Lori D.
Edited by Lori D.
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What do you think about outside/online courses that are designated Honors by the provider?  Youngest dd is probably going to do a mix of CC and online, but I'm thinking of using DO for some of the online courses, and I see he has an Honors designation for most of the classes...


JMO, but I would list a course on the transcript exactly as it is entitled by the provider (as well as copy-paste the provider's course description), in case the college admission office decides to go looking for the course. Makes it easier for them, and shows that you are legit. And it's just easier for you, as well, not having to make up a course title. ;)


So, yes, call the online course "Honors" if that's what the provider calls it. JMO. :)

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I haven't seen a downside. 


The biggest upside is that some colleges accept weighted grades for scholarship purposes. The difference between a 3.2 and a 3.5 can translate into a substantial amount of money. This is not the case for all schools, of course, but it can't hurt and might help. 


We were told (by the colleges) that it's absolutely fine for homeschoolers to use the honors designation; it does not have to be a level within one school, but should simply correlate to what would be an honors course in the school system. 


So, for my own edification, I googled a lot of honors syllabi and course descriptions. For the admissions and scholarship offices, I included a fairly short course summary, 3 pages total, along with the transcript. 

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With my older kids I did not use honors designations. I am changing my mind for my 11th grader. One of the schools she wants to apply to uses the SSAR system. It is incredibly annoying to try to quantify our classes within those boxes. I am pretty sure that they take those entries and generate a score. Since her actual transcript is going to be reduced by a computer program as a filter, I am labeling them honos bc they are far beyond anything offered in any school around us and the entries will impact scholarship eligibility

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I used honors designations for courses that were determined to be that by outside instructors - these were courses that the same instructors taught at college level.  In addition, I gave courses that received the official A/P designation honors level credit.  I showed both the regular GPA and a weighted GPA on the transcript. Though the colleges where my kids applied to did not use the weighted grades, several of the scholarship programs that use the same transcript did.  So for us, the main advantage to the honors designation is the potential for more scholarships.

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