There’s an old cliche that says something similar to, “When you find the right college, you’ll know. It’ll just feel right.” As a quintessential skeptic, I laughed this adage away. There was nothing intuitive or emotional about a college search. It should be driven by cold, hard data – the curriculum, course offerings, location, tuition, and housing options. So, when I started looking at universities, sentiment did not play role. No brick-and-motor campus felt “right” – that is, until I visited The RECHC.
The Robert E. Cook Honors College (RECHC) is part of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). Unlike traditional honors offerings, this college is a true community of scholars. The focus goes beyond your GPA; rather, the innovative Core Curriculum challenges students to expand their critical thinking. Each Honors Core Unit opens with an intriguing series of questions – the first is “What Do We Know, What Do We Believe, and What, therefore, should we do?” – that are explored through a history, philosophy, literature, or fine arts course. This provides the foundations for a successful academic and professional career. And the RECHC also helps students pursue opportunities outside of the university – they can apply for financial aid from the Achievement Fund in order to get an unpaid internship, study aboard, or other enriching experience.
It is undeniable that the Honors College is a close-knit community, providing the structure and support that some many freshman lack. However, this intimacy is often mistaken for elitism. Honors students tend to eat meals, study, and socialize together. This causes many other campus dwellers to write them off as “snobs” or “clique-y”. Yet this view is more of an illusion than reality. Yes, RECHC members spend a lot of time together, and probably make the most of their college friends within the program. However, this is more due to the fact that honors students thrive off the academic and social support of the living-learning community. Most welcome the chance to make friends and attend events outside of the Honors College.
Nestled in a small western Pennsylvania town, The Robert E. Cook Honors College is welcoming and unpretentious. Admissions advisors do not look just at your transcript but also consider your passion, progress, and potential. It is a place where being unceasingly curious – and just a little bit quirky – can take you a long way. And when I reflect on my first semester at the RECHEC – filled with late-night study sessions, social events, a plethora of friends, and the toughest academic challenges I have ever encountered – I know that this is where I belong.
For more information, please visit http://old.www.iup.edu/honors/