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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Honors College graduation rate a shame

    If any other department on campus had a graduation rate of 30 percent, there’d be talk.

    However, celebration, rather than concern, was the order of the day on the recent report that the rate of students enrolled in UA’s Honors College actually graduating with honors had made a jump from an uninspiring 25 percent to 31 percent.

    It’s apparently not viewed as a problem that 69 percent of honors students – while still utilizing honors resources – are either unable or unwilling to graduate with honors. But as the adage goes, the first step to solving a problem is admitting that there is one.

    There are two reasons that students enrolled in the Honors College are not graduating with honors: lack of interest and inability.

    The truth is that many students enrolled in the Honors College simply have no intention of graduating with honors. Freshmen and transfer students are automatically considered for acceptance to the Honors College upon submitting an application to the UA; no separate initial application exists. The result? A surfeit of apathetic honors students.

    Though it would certainly be a more difficult administrative process, there should be at least some form of application to the college so that the students accepted are those who want to be there. The students who aren’t committed to seeing their Honors College experience through shouldn’t be taking up classroom spots and resources that could be better utilized by their more dedicated peers.

    Besides, if a purpose of the program is to encourage the development of a community of similarly committed individuals, it just makes sense to compose that community of those who want to be in it.

    The second reason students don’t graduate with honors is inability. Without performing schedule gymnastics, some individuals find themselves without enough honors classes to take in order to achieve the minimum number of units to graduate from the college. Though the Honors College has proposed alternatives – like contracting for honors credit – they only go so far. The honors experience is supposed to be one in which committed students are encouraged by the intellectual explorations and aspirations of their peers, something difficult to achieve in a contracting situation.

    The solution to both of these problems? Cash.

    Though probably not the only answer to troubles plaguing the Honors College, an influx of resources could give the program the kick it needs to truly impact the college experiences of a greater number of students.

    Arizona State University’s Barrett Honors College underwent massive improvements in 2000 after a $10 million donation from Intel CEO Craig Barrett. With the additional resources it has, it is able to offer its students incredible opportunities – like frequent speaking engagements with inspiring, national figures – as well as living-learning communities that make the campus experience of students who are part of the Barrett College substantively different from a nonhonors experience.

    With more money, the UA’s Honors College can create a more sophisticated system for acceptance, ensuring that the students who join the college are the ones who want to be there. It can also ensure greater availability of honors courses, advisers and resources, making the Honors College a valuable resource that students want to stay a part of.

    As President Robert Shelton begins his tenure as UA president, he should consider what type of legacy he wants to leave. With financial and administrative support, our Honors College can offer all students who are a part of it an incentive to follow through until graduation, not just 30 percent of them. It’s time to start looking for the UA’s Craig Barrett.

    Opinions Board

    Opinions are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Nina Conrad, Lori Foley, Ryan Johnson, Ari Lerner, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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