The Torrey Honors Institute is one of the top-ranked honors programs in the nation — but it’s probably not what you’d expect. Many of my friends absolutely love Torrey Honors, but I’m not part of the program personally, so I sat down with Hannah Hines, a current student Torrey student, to get an inside look. If you’re considering Torrey, or you’re just curious, read on!
F: What are 5 things you think prospective students should know about Torrey Honors?
H: (1) Torrey is a general education program based on reading and discussion. Our classes aren't structured like a typical lecture-style class. Instead, you’ll read and discuss incredible books with a group of your peers and an amazing Torrey professor. That means you won't have tests or quizzes or textbooks or busy work!
(2) You’ll have a discussion group called a “cohort.” This cohort can often become like a family for Torrey students at Biola because of the amount of time students spend together in and out of class. Cohorts are an amazingly tight-knit community at the heart of a Torrey experience.
(3) You’ll be assigned to one of our brilliant, Ph.D. level professors for a one-on-one, four-year mentoring program. They walk with you through the program, but they’re more than just academic mentors. They desire to encourage holistic — academic, spiritual, and personal — growth.
(4) We read lots of texts. History books and philosophy, Greek plays and Shakespeare, epic poems and literature, speeches and novels. We read all of these great books for many reasons, but most importantly, we read them so that we can read the Bible, the Greatest Book, better.
(5) Torrey can change your life. The Torrey community is continually seeking after Jesus by pursuing the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. The books that we read and the discussions that we have can and will affect your relationship with the Lord. This program is incredibly special, and God is at work here in amazing ways.
F: What are some myths about Torrey?
H: Some people think Torrey is limiting — it isn’t. Since it is a general education program, Torrey is simply replacing classes you already have to take, allowing you to fulfill your general education requirements in a different way. We have every major on campus represented in Torrey. Students in Torrey can do anything they want throughout their time in college. There are Torrey students on sports teams and in student government and working as RAs. Torrey students have part-time jobs and off-campus internships and heavy involvement in the arts. Nothing is off-limits to Torrey students.
Also, some people believe that Torrey isn't worth it if you have transfer/dual credit units and AP credits. However, Torrey is often a wonderful extension and continuation of the education received in these types of college prep classes. The units will still transfer in and count towards the total requirements for graduation, they just won't transfer as directly as you might think.
How do you manage the workload and how does it affect the other classes that you’ll take?
Many students find that Torrey condenses their workload — covering most of the general education requirements, including history, English, philosophy, theology, fine arts, communication, and Bible. In other words, we take Torrey and major classes, and that’s it. We also get our reading lists months before the semester begins and can complete our reading as early as we want, working at our own pace. I mostly manage the workload by reading ahead. I usually read four to five books before each semester begins. Then, I plan out my semester of reading. I know exactly how much I need to read each day and which weeks I need to read more. If I have a particularly hectic week, I plan to read ahead to help alleviate any stress I might have.
What is the Torrey community like?
The community is tight-knit and loving. Some of the deepest relationships I have ever formed are the relationships I've made here in Torrey. People in Torrey are so adamant about loving God and loving people that you can't help but walk into a discussion or a professor's office and feel at peace. The mentors love us. The Torrey admissions team and advising staff love us. The director loves us. We love each other and we all love God and desperately want to know him more. This community is intentional about growth and excited about learning. I wouldn't want to go through my college years in any other community.
F: What is your favorite part about the Torrey Honors Institute program?
H: It's so hard to pick one thing about Torrey that is my favorite! I absolutely love this program so I have to give three. I love the community. My cohort is an incredible group of people that has become my little family here at Biola.I love reading the Bible. I am truly excited every time we read a book of the Bible and have the opportunity to talk about it for three hours at a time. I also love the way the other great books have shaped my ability to read the Bible more closely and more deeply. Most importantly, I love getting to know God more. Every day, I learn more and more about who he is and who I am in him, and I have experienced such profound joy and delight because of this relationship that is being strengthened by the Torrey curriculum. Because of that, I can't imagine being in any other program for my college experience.
Well, there you have it! If you have any questions, you can explore the website or contact the Torrey Honors office and they’ll be happy to help you out! And if Torrey sounds like a good fit for you, it’s a great time to apply!
‘Til next time,