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Diversity is a term you’ve seen tossed around on colleges’ brochures, viewbooks, and Web sites. It’s as if schools everywhere are saying, “No matter who you are, you’ll fit right in here.” Most colleges actively seek applicants from different backgrounds—demographic, economic, social, and so forth—so that students can learn not just in the classroom but from each other.

An honors program sees diversity as a goal

Clubs and activities spring from diversity, with something to fit nearly everyone, and an honors program is no exception. Many honors programs count diversity within their student body as a benefit, along with small class sizes and professors who get to know each of their students individually. In their arsenal of recruiting tools, some honors programs even offer scholarships exclusively for minority students.

But when it comes to finding, within an honors program, a group for a certain type of student—such as an athlete or a jazz impresario or a minority—you’ll be hard-pressed to find one. Fish around the honors section of the college of your choice. Within the FAQ, you’ll find the answers to your academic concerns about an honors school, but rarely will you see information about sub-groups of honors students.

That’s because most honors programs emphasize that students bond with each other. The students spend a lot of time taking the same honors courses, so friendly faces quickly become familiar friends. And a variety of programs encourage honors students to live in the same residence hall and to spend time outside the classroom together. It’s not that honors students don’t make friends or have interests outside their honors classes—most students do have both. It’s just that an honors program knows that honors students have similar goals and frustrations, and if they are backed by a solid group of similar-minded friends, honors students can weather the toughest of collegiate storms.

Specific diversity-related groups within an honors program

Of course, not every school has a one-size-fits-all honors program. Bigger universities generally have larger student populations and are more likely to cater to different types of honors students. For example, the University Honors Program at the University of Maryland offers the Black Honors Caucus and the Latino Honors Caucus. The caucuses sponsor activities throughout the year, like cookouts, forums, game nights, and community service events. Although each group uniquely supports black or Latino students, respectively, both groups are open to everyone, regardless of race or whether or not a student is even enrolled in the honors program.

No matter what honors college or program you choose, you can be sure that you’ll find a group of students just like you—and completely different from you—to accompany you on your journey through the trials and tribulations of college life.

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