Opinion

Stimulate learning through honors program

Being an honors student means feeling up for a challenge and loving to learn in new ways. But at the University of Miami, all it entails is being restricted to a limited selection of honors courses with slightly smaller class sizes.

The Faculty Senate decided to abolish the university’s General Honors Program and although the news may come as a shock, the logic behind it makes sense.

The General Honors Program in its current form, which requires students to complete 24 honors credits by graduation, is not particularly competitive or attractive, and it does not open up many new opportunities.

A report released by the Faculty Senate’s Academic Standards Committee showed that 87 percent of honors students surveyed did not choose to attend UM for its honors program. However, a well-structured honors program can draw prospective students.

While phasing out General Honors over the next four years, UM should focus on building up a new program, even if that means starting from scratch.

Many honors students feel restricted by the fact that they must take an honors course each semester because they don’t have many options to choose from. Nearly 70 percent of honors offerings are housed within arts and sciences. And it seems most are either 101 courses or 500-levels. Students have the option of requesting an extra assignment  from a professor but that does not an honor course make.

Expansion of community-based learning programs within specific academic departments like PRISM could revive UM’s honors program by providing more valuable learning opportunities.

The nominal 30-point difference between the average SAT score for accepted UM students and the minimum threshold for an invitation to participate in the honors program proves that there is barely a difference in the quality of student peers in class.

Perhaps, in addition to new honors offerings, the admissions committee should consider other factors, such as leadership experience, that would make an honors student excel in this type of learning environment.

Getting rid of General Honors entirely without coming up with a replacement would be a missed opportunity for UM and its students. An Ivy League school can go without an honors program, but other colleges and universities owe their students the most stimulating learning environment.

 

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

February 5, 2014

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The Miami Hurricane


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