Students discuss upper-division honors options

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    Two student-led panels discussed the benefits and procedures for participating in the upper-division honors of the university’s John V. Roach Honors College.

    Students in the Honors College have the option to graduate with upper-division honors, Donna Schonerstedt, an academic adviser for the Honors College, said. Students can choose university honors, departmental honors or both.

    The interactive panels provided an opportunity for attending honors students to ask questions about the two options Thursday evening in Palko 130.

    The program offered students the benefit of hearing about the actual experiences of students in upper-division honors, Schonerstedt said.

    “They are talking about what it’s really like to write a thesis, what it’s really like to be in the classes, so it’s not just coming from the academic adviser but what the student really experiences,” she said.

    The two panels consisted of students who are participating in university honors and/or departmental honors.

    University honors involves participation in four colloquia classes. These classes are small, discussion-based courses that challenge students to think critically about a wide variety of topics, according to information sheets provided at the event.

    The university honors route offers a diversity of perspectives and prepares students to communicate about what they think and believe, Michael Dabbs, a senior political science and strategic communication double major who is completing both upper-division honors options, said.

    “Colloquia has really made me think a lot about who I am, what I believe in, my values and how to defend my opinions,” Reagan Elliott, a senior nursing major, said.

    Departmental honors requires the completion of a research or creative project within a student’s major discipline. This project is conducted with a committee of three professors and must include a written thesis or artist’s statement, according to the information sheets.

    Departmental honors develop students' hard skills in their field of study,Schonerstedt said.

    This route is applicable for students trying to get into graduate school, Dabbs said. These students are equipped with a full-length research project and paper, and the professors that students work with on the project can provide personal letters of recommendation, he said.

    Either of the upper-division honors prepares students for a different aspect of the future, he said. University honors are more about who people are as an individual, while departmental honors are more about the experiences students develop, he said.

    Although more honors students participate in departmental honors, the number of students participating in university honors or both is increasing,Schonerstedt said. The student-led panels are held every spring semester, but the Honors College is considering running the discussion in the fall as well, she said.

    The honors curriculum also includes lower-division honors. Students may graduate with only lower-division honors, she said.

    According to the Honors College website, the completion of lower-division honors requires 15 hours of honors Cultural Visions coures and elective classes.