Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Inconvenient Honors Program

Last year, when my friends and I first read about the "new and improved" honors prgram, we all had the same reaction: why would anyone want to be in the honors program now?

Apparently, we weren't the only ones who thought so. The Hatchet reports that the honors enrollment is down:
The new honors program attracted only 90 freshmen this fall and has not reached its annual enrollment target of 125 students since 2005. In the new honors program, students take interdisciplinary honors courses in place of general curriculum requirements during their freshman and sophomore years
The honors program has both significantly enhanced my experience at GW and been one of the most overrated aspects of it.

The greatest perk by far has been honors housing. It allowed all of us nerds to avoid Thurston freshman year and spend our late nights bonding in the hallways of Lafayette instead. That's where I met a good portion of my closest friends.

I've also loved the small classes that are full of familiar faces. It's a nice contrast to walking into a 120 person political science class where I don't recognize anyone. I've gotten to know some amazing professors because of the more intimate environment of a smaller class size. I got to indulge in some intellectual discourse. And a free honors program dinner is a free dinner.

However, making the honors program work with my schedule has always been the bane of my existance, and this is before the new program imposed more stringent requirements. Why? Because the honors program does not work with the different schools to make its courses count towards requirements.

Examples?
My honors course entitled 'Advanced Readings on the Middle East" does not count towards a Middle East Concentration in Elliott.
My Constitutional Privacy course could not count for my Political Science electives.

As a result, the topic of conversation between Juniors and Seniors in the honors program is how best to get around the honors requirements.

I didn't come to GW because I wanted a well rounded liberal arts education. I came here because I wanted to study politics and international affairs. I was attracted to the flexible GCRs in Elliott and honestly, if the current honors program had been in place, I probably would have dropped it as soon as I realized that it would mean additional math and science classes. In fact, if an incoming freshman asked me whether to join the honors program, I would probably tell them that it's not worth it anymore.

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