Honors College courses are too competitive for students

The Honors College provides its business card to a series of incoming students, outlining the actual requirements needed to graduate from the program. (Photo by L Hoffman)

Students take pride in their accomplishments, including being accepted into the prestigious UW Honors College. However, what is the advantage of this position if it means that students cannot enroll in the courses they need to graduate?

Recently, the Honors College introduced a non-Western attribute course requirement for graduation for honors students which has not been evenly distributed.

Like any other policy change at the university, students who were already enrolled in the college or transferred prior to the introduction were exempted from this course requirement.

This creates a cost disparity between honor students, especially those who may have only transferred a semester apart but with the same academic results, as newly indoctrinated students must pay for an additional course in view of graduation.

Although early registration is an advantage for being an honors student, a distinction must be made between them and advisors must provide senior and junior status individuals with meetings and registrations first.

Not only is the requirement for this course typology unevenly distributed among honor college students, but there is also a dire lack of it.

The Honors College offers only three to five non-Western assigned courses each semester, with an average of about sixteen places per class. Although waiting-listing or emailing the professor for an “exception” is an option, not all students are successful in enrolling.

One of my colleagues even described that he had to postpone his honors college graduation for three semesters because he was unable to enroll in a non-Western assigned course due to the competitiveness of the classes.

The Honors College is expected to increase class availability slots to up to twenty.

Even numbers promote more successful group discussions and projects, and if a professor needs help with grading, the Honors College could employ a new internship or teaching assistant program.

Alternatively, a specialist course teacher once said that after learning about her unique background and how it fits into the specialist college’s mission to teach “interdisciplinary courses” in “an invigorating and highly effective learning environment he was “begged” to teach.

Most critical is the expansion of class options, particularly non-Western assigned courses, through the dual appointment of faculty from multiple colleges on campus and the reassessment of qualifications needed to create unique classes for honors students.

While I myself, as an honors student, was lucky enough to secure a place with a non-Western assigned course for my graduation requirements, the same cannot be said for courses that elicit my interest.

For three semesters, I tried to enroll in a course that would help me adapt my argumentative skills to my future career as a lawyer. My first attempt was unsuccessful because the class was full and I hadn’t made enough connections on campus to make an argument as to why I should be an exception to the class.

The following semester, I was misled by an advisor who believed the course would still be offered. When I found out the course was unavailable, I couldn’t have been more dismayed.

Knowing the difficulty of registering for the specialization classes, I secured both early registration and an early meeting with a counselor to receive my PERC number in hopes of entering the class.

Yet despite my best efforts – despite my preparation – the fall semester course was full and, once again, I was forced into another class.

Honors College courses are too competitive, even for their own limited student population, and a solution must be found.


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