How to Turn a Course into an Honors Course

In general, most teens want to get their courses completed as quickly and easily as possible, often with a “just git ‘er done” attitude. But once in a while a student really puts extra effort into a course, delving into personal study of an area of interest, entering a contest that requires additional research and polished performance that complements a subject being studied. It would be nice to somehow draw attention on the transcript to the exceptional effort. And there is a way! You can designate it an “Honors Course.”  A student in a small Christian school or home school can designate an honors course on their transcript by following these guidelines.

To be an honors course the following requirements should be met:

  • The main course has to be completed in full
  • A learning project has to be completed that relates to the subject
  • The project must involve 30 or more hours of additional work (an hour a day for six weeks, or a full week of school days, for example)
  • Something significant has to be learned — not just a summary of general knowledge on a topic
  • Some type of presentation must be made (research paper, oral report with notes, video project, display board with accompanying documentation, etc)

Some examples:

  • A student does an in depth science fair project, researching and conducting the project, and then presenting it well
  • A student researches a key person or event in history, learning in depth about it, and then creating a narrated power point to communicate what was learned
  • A student works for a political candidate, assisting in their office, learning about political issues and the political process, and writes a paper to summarize all he learned
  • A student goes on a missions trip with his church and when he returns creates a scrapbook with pictures and journal entries to document the culture, geography, people, etc which complement his World Geography course that year
  • A student completes a course from “The Great Courses” that complements his regular course. I recently had a boy purchase and work through the video course about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity which turned his Physics course into Honors Physics. 

Recommendations: try to find and utilize “primary documents” or use first-person interviews or historical site visits when applicable.

Again, to recap, the project should involve “real learning” and reach or exceed the minimum 30 additional hours of work beyond the normal course work, and have some type of presentation at the end in order to turn the course into an honors course. Document why the course deserves the honors designation, and then change the title on the transcript.

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