There are a few honors a student can receive, and although there are a few expectations that go along with being an honors student, there are great perks. Right now, I’m a James Scholar for the College of Media.
But first, a little history about the Edmund J. James Scholar program. It’s a university-wide honors program that was founded to encourage the talents of outstanding students. Edmund J. James was actually the fourth president of the University of Illinois.
Each college has its own specific requirements on how to become a James Scholar. When applying, you can be admitted as a James Scholar or you can work toward being a James Scholar when you’re a freshman, sophomore or junior. I am only speaking from my experience as a James Scholar in Media.
I became a James Scholar in Media my junior year after making the Dean’s List for two straight semesters. One awesome perk of becoming a James Scholar is that you get to pick classes first out of every other student on campus. This perk is worth it because a lot of the popular classes get swiped up by seniors and student-athletes rather quickly. If you love online classes like me, this is a great way to swipe up the online classes before everyone else.
But there are requirements and expectations as a James Scholar. You are expected to maintain a 3.5 GPA each semester and are expected to do something out of the classroom to get the honors credit.
For the College of Media, they have a few different options I’m familiar with on how to earn honors credit for the program. One option is to go on a Media-sponsored study abroad trip. For example, every spring break, there is a James Scholar London trip. Many of my friends have visited the London Eye, Big Ben and the BBC office.
Another option to get credit is to do service-learning. You will be paired up with a local Champaign-Urbana nonprofit and you will be able to do a semester-long internship for them. You would do something media-related like creating a newsletter or producing a video for the nonprofit. This would be one of the more fulfilling options for you.
Finally, you can turn a course into an honors course. I have done this option four times. The requirements of this is to do an additional project of your interest. Usually, it is a research paper or a PowerPoint presentation on a chosen topic from the course content. I have done really cool projects on history of the University of Illinois’ satirical newspapers and I am currently finishing up a project for my digital content technologies class about artificial intelligence in films and consumer behavior.
For more information on the James Scholar Program in Media, click here.