Opinion: More students should apply to Barrett

Barrett is about more than just GPA — it's about experiences

Barrett, the Honors College is a selective residential college that seeks outstanding undergraduates, according to ASU’s website. But how selective is it really? 

With a relatively straightforward application as well as an essay and a few references, applying to Barrett seems like a fairly typical process. In fact, the residential college doesn’t even list a minimum high school GPA requirement. However, when students hear the words “honors credits” or "honors thesis,” they tend to feel less compelled to check out the school. 

Honors credits sound a lot scarier than they actually are. In fact, most honors credits are earned by honors contracts, which are simply an extra project that is assigned by a professor in any given class and usually designed by the student. Honors credits can also be earned in the freshman year class “The Human Event”, a Socratic style class required by Barrett, honors only classes and a student’s thesis or creative project.

Many people find themselves having the attitude of getting in and quickly out of college and not really trying to push themselves. More often than not, many students often shy away from applying to Barrett because they are afraid it’s too much work, too difficult and not worth it in the end. However, these concerns they express are only myths. 

Alexandra Aragon, the director of Honors Academic Services, says that one of the biggest misconceptions students have is that they have to be an extraordinarily high performing student to get into the school.  

“People believe it’s only for a certain kind of student, that you have to be number one in your classroom in high school, or only focused on studies," Aragon said. "When actually, the college is all about leadership."

More students should recognize that having a high GPA or high SAT score is not the only thing that Barrett takes in consideration. It also cares about all the clubs or organizations applicants participated in, the experiences they've had, and other elements of their resume that don't come out in a grade point average. 

“We do look at test scores, but we’re also looking for potential, so people that really made that effort, that were engaged, that took on opportunities outside the classroom,” Aragon said.  

Another factor that comes in to play regarding Barrett is if it’s worth it. Students find themselves wondering if the additional work, and extra tuition dollars, are going to be beneficial in the end — if what they accomplish in Barrett, whether it be from the Human Event or crafting a senior project, will matter in a full-time job. 

However, Aragon says that being able to tell employers that you were willing to work harder than those around you and produce a thesis as an undergraduate enables you to stand out more. Typically, this is something done by graduate students, so to say you undertook this type of project as an undergrad is fairly impressive.

“I think number one, the community (is the most important thing about Barrett),” Aragon said. “Just being in a  smaller community at ASU, with like-minded people, who take their academics seriously.” 

In college, there proves to be many distractions that can negatively impact a student's education. However, having the option to be surrounded by those who want to go the extra mile, and do as well as they would like to is a great way to promote staying on track. 

Applying to Barrett isn’t about the title or about loading yourself with excessive amounts of work. It’s about building a network of like-minded people and taking pride in challenging yourself. 

Ultimately being in Barrett isn't about grades or a SAT score that helped you get in, but the experiences that come with it.

Reach the reporter at dkodonne@asu.edu or follow @Devynnodonnell on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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