Students weigh pros, cons of Honors College membership

Alex Sandefur

Students are thinking about leaving the Honors College after finding the incentive to stay is not as great as they anticipated.

Honors students are required to have a cumulative GPA of 3.2 and complete 33 honors credit hours to be in good standing. While there are perks like honors housing and priority registration, some current students say this is not enough to keep them enrolled all four years.

Brittany, a sophomore biology major and honors student who prefers to be referenced only by her first name due to potential academic conflict, said she is considering dropping out of the Honors College her junior or senior year.

“I like the Honors College, but I don’t want to stress about classes because they are so difficult to get into,” she said. “There just aren’t that many honors classes in my major.”

Wolfgang Brauner, honors advisor for the almost 1,400 honors students, said it is up to the head of each university department to decide which classes will have honors sections for that semester.

“In an ideal world, there would be plenty of honors classes, but there aren’t enough resources,” Brauner said. “That is not something we can control.”

Brittany said the Honors College spends a lot of its resources on recruiting new students and not enough on making those students want to stay once they are at WKU.

“They favor high schoolers over students already in the program,” she said.

Hayden Grace, a first-year exploratory major from Hopkinsville, said the Honors College at WKU stood out while he was looking into colleges.

Grace said he likes that the Honors College has its own set of advisers who get to know the students.

“[The Honors College] fosters a sense of community,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of that.”

Grace said he has no plans to leave the Honors College in the future.

Lydia, a sophomore honors student who wishes to have her last name left out due to potential academic conflict, said her nursing program is difficult enough without adding honors.

“The nursing program is very intense,” Lydia said. “I’ve seen my sister struggle with classes, and she didn’t even have any extracurriculars. How would I be able to handle it?”

Brauner said the honors curriculum is not meant to add more work for the student; rather, it is meant to be embedded in classes students are already taking. He also said the college tries to provide ample opportunities, such as augmenting upper-division offline classes, for students to reach the required credits.

Brauner said some professors do not allow augmentations, and that is up to them. He said he believes some professors may not do augmentations because the process is not entirely clear.

Brauner said another reason students may choose to leave the Honors College is the Capstone Experience/Thesis.

According to the Honors College website, CE/T is a research or creative project in which honors students combine their passion and career goals by working with a professor.

This project is optional; students can choose to opt out of the CE/T and take six additional honors hours in their major.

Elizabeth Gish, assistant professor in the Honors College, has helped students with their CE/T in the past. She said students can be intimidated by the name but end up enjoying the project because they get to study what they love.

The bonus is getting to work closely with a professor. Developing those relationships with professors is what Gish said being an honors student is about.