Welcome, new students!

Honors College students Neha Potdar (left), Ben Brooks (center) and Aufia Zhowandai (right) and offer newcomers their tips for success.

Welcome to the Honors College at VCU! Your first semester may seem intimidating at first, but there are lots of ways and support systems to help you succeed in Honors. Being a member of the Honors College is about what you want to make out of it. It’s about how you will use the resources the Honors College offers to enrich your undergraduate experience.

As an Honors student, you have access to take Honors classes. This lets you have a smaller class size in which the professor gets to know who you are. Don’t be afraid to visit their office hours to ask for additional help. From my experience, professors are more than happy to take the time to make sure you understand what you are learning. This unique opportunity lets you develop a better relationship with your professor. Another tip for success in the Honors College is getting involved. There are lots of Honors student organizations and programs you can join. For instance, you can join Le Monde, Honors Student Executive Board (HSEB), and more! The small community you will experience has its benefits.

Your fellow peers are another great resource to help you succeed. I have enjoyed studying with Honors students in the study rooms at the Honors College. Another thing everyone should do is read the Honors College weekly newsletter. Honors helps us find new opportunities and communicates it through this for us to take advantage of. Lastly, if you are having difficulty with classes or adjusting don’t be afraid to ask for help from your Honors adviser. They have resources and advice to help you move forward on the right path to success.

It may seem like a lot to handle at first, but with the tight-knit community and support the Honors College has, you all are more than capable of success. Your freshmen year is truly the most memorable year you will have at VCU, and with that I wish you all good luck and success at your time here in the Honors College!

– Neha

Neha Potdar is a senior majoring in biomedical engineering.

Incoming Honors students,

Welcome to the Honors College! You are now part of a highly dedicated group of individuals who represent some of the best that VCU has to offer. The road ahead of you is exciting and filled with opportunity. I encourage you to make the most of it during your time here.

I, myself, had the pleasure of being accepted into the Honors College in the fall of 2016 as a transfer student from a local community college. What I’ve come to learn during my time at VCU and the Honors College is that your experience is what you make of it. While being accepted into the Honors College shows that you are already a motivated student, I’d like to share with you three items that I’ve found to be extremely helpful throughout my academic journey:

1. Get involved.

I hardly knew anyone when I first came to VCU and, other than my classes, I was involved in nothing. Being a part of a student organization or club is a fantastic way to break out of your shell and get to know other students who share similar interests. Take time to experience a number of student organizations and then narrow it down to two or three that you want to be a part of. Having something to be involved in outside of the classroom helped me to find my place at VCU and I’m sure it’ll do the same for you.

2. Opportunity awaits.

There is opportunity everywhere and it’s up to you to take advantage of it. That invitation to a mixer event? That’s an opportunity. That scholarship application mentioned in an email? That’s an opportunity. Answering a question in class? That’s an opportunity. Get in the habit of saying yes. It’ll open new doors to even more opportunities and there’s no telling where you’ll end up.

3. Don’t do it alone.

College can be stressful. Managing your schedule, completing your coursework, and dealing with life can be quite a burden. The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone. You’re a VCU student and have an incredible amount of support available to you. Let your advisor walk you through scheduling your courses. Meet with your professor to better understand a concept from their lecture. Use tutoring to stay on top of difficult subjects. Visit Student Health to keep yourself running at 100%. Get help finding a job with Career Services. You get the idea; take advantage of the people and resources that are here to help you.

Again, welcome to VCU and the Honors College! 

– Ben

Ben Brooks '18 majored in information systems.

Incoming Honors class,

Since I just finished my first year in the Honors Program, I have some advice. But first I would like to say Congratulations! By being in the Honors College, you have already taken a huge step in furthering your future education.

Anyway, here are the tips I have for you:

  1. If you live in the Honors building, take advantage of it

When I first told family members that I wasn’t going to have a roommate freshman year, they were concerned and wondered how I would make friends by myself. But one of the best things about living in Honors is that you are exposed to so many unique individuals. Not having a roommate is a benefit, because it forces you to talk to other people in the building, rather than being confined to the few people you may share a suite or room with.

  1. Become friends with your teachers

If you have questions in class, go see your teacher during office hours. If you admire a teacher’s class style or find the research they do interesting, let them know. Because of the relationship you form with a teacher, he or she might choose you as the student to talk to about an internship opportunity, ask to be a TA, or agree to write you a recommendation.

  1. Attend Honors Events

Before freshman year I participated in Freshman Research Institute, and it was one of the best weeks of my college experience. I actually met two of my closest friends and future roommates through the program. There are so many Honors College events and programs, and it never hurts to go to any of them.

  1. Take advantage of the Preferred Applicant program

This won’t apply to everyone, but if you are interested in a health profession (medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, etc.) you can apply for a guaranteed spot in one of the schools. This is a huge perk to being an Honors student.

  1. Do things outside your major

When I tell people I’m an engineering major, they assume I’m a STEM addict. But I actually have many interests outside of STEM: I love reading, writing, fashion and being outdoors. Read different books for fun, or take that economics class despite being a biology major. This will ultimately make you a student with perspective.

  1. Don’t get discouraged too easily.

 This is not only good school advice, but good life advice. When I started my first engineering class, I was distraught over how difficult the material was. I questioned whether I was a right fit for the major, despite knowing I’m a strong student. But no matter what you decide to do, it will be tough at times. Don’t give up on your dreams because they initially seem difficult, give everything some time.

– Aufia

Aufia Zhowandai is a junior majoring in biomedical engineering.