In January, 2004, Aftab Pureval, Undergraduate Student Government president at the time, placed review of the Honors and Scholars Program on his administration’s agenda and devoted a substantial part of his State of the University address to program reforms, stating that the current budget of $8 million for the program funds an institution that is too big and too inefficient. He was right.
Pureval explained that honors students receive perks such as smaller class sizes, but the students are not intellectually challenged by the honors program, and enjoy benefits, such as honors scholarships, without meeting minimum requirements for receiving those perks and benefits. Some students accepted into the honors program are automatically given a scholarship that can range from $500-$1,000 a quarter.
The report from USG committee in January, 2004, outlined a new approach to the program that recommended a decrease in the number of students in the honors program from 20 percent of the student body to 10 percent, a heavy cut in the amount of merit-based scholarships awarded and the creation of dozens of higher-level classes exclusively for honors students, among others. The requirements in the newest proposal include a minimum grade point average of 3.4, six completed courses by the end of the first two years, and a completed honors program, such as a thesis or a project specific to each student’s college. Also included is a provision for embedded courses, which would allow students taking non-honors courses to receive honors credit by doing additional, in-depth work. The new standard requirements would apply to all honors and scholars students if the Honors and Scholars Center becomes a formal academic center, pending University Senate approval.
The problems with OSU’s Honors and Scholars Program are painfully obvious. Honors and scholars students are not obligated at any level to meet with advisers, attend extra events or turn in progress reports. Requirements to stay in the program, such as grade point average and a minimum number of credit hours, are rarely enforced. By simply being in the program, students gain immediate access to priority scheduling, better housing and mounds of scholarship money. The Honors and Scholars Program is an elitist institution based on the merit of one standardized test score or a cumulative high school grade point average. It is not an accurate representation of Ohio State’s best and brightest. The new requirements, if approved, would weed out students leeching the Honors and Scholars Program for its benefits, rather than responsibly representing the university.
This page strongly urges the University Senate to approve the reform that would clean up the honors program and return it to a place of prestige, rather than a superficial recruiting tool.
Linda Harlow, vice provost of the University Honors and Scholars Program put it best when she was quoted in a Lantern article saying, “If students aren’t willing to work harder, they don’t deserve the benefits of the honors program.” If University Senate approves the new Honors and Scholars Program requirements, students who plunder the program’s resources will soon find themselves on the outside looking in.