Without honors

Being an honors student is supposed to be a challenging experience, but enrolling in honors classes shouldn’t be the hardest part of that experience.

Even the brightest honors students can find it highly difficult to work out a schedule that allows them to take the minimum of the six honors credits a year. Classes are scheduled few and far between and attempting to find an upper level course is even more difficult, especially considering how inconsistently the courses are offered.

For the spring 2006 semester the accounting department isn’t offering any honors classes, anthropology: two, chemistry: three, economics: three, marketing: one, political science: four, and there are only two honors courses listed on MyUM for the entire School of Communication.

Honors students can also take 500-level courses for honors credit, but this does not always solve the lack-of-courses problem. Sophomores and juniors in particular are often at a point where they don’t need an intro-level honors course but also don’t meet the requirements for a 500-level course, so they tend to fall into honors limbo. This makes it almost impossible to fulfill the requirement of taking 12 credits in honors at the 200-level or higher.

If students don’t give up their dreams of graduating with honors they can always pink slip a regular class and work with the professor to create additional course work, but only six credits can be earned this way, and it often defeats the purpose of taking an honors class.

Students who have committed to taking honors courses expect harder courses but also smaller class sizes with peers who are academically at the same level and on the same page as them. The professors for the courses are also supposed to be the best that the University has to offer. Pink slipping a class takes these things away from the students and in their place adds an extra project or paper.

The University uses the honors program as a recruiting tool to attract the top academic high school students-students in the top five percent of their high school class with an SAT of 1,360-but then falls short on their promises to provide an academically stimulating environment. With this lack of options some honors students decide, rather than taking an honors class they don’t need or want to take, that they’ll just drop out of the honors program.

This solution isn’t helping them and it isn’t furthering the University’s academic image. If the program is going to continue, perhaps the Honors Program Office should work more closely with individual departments to ensure students have the options they need for a truly challenging and fulfilling education. Otherwise, the program is going to have to look for desperate, non-academic incentives to keep its students-like free parking.