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Honors Office Makes Change To Eligibility Requirements

The Honors Program will no longer offer Honors Seminar classes, changing eligibility requirements from 15 credits with a seminar course to 18 total credit hours.
Photo+by+Kate+Stuck
Photo by Kate Stuck

The COD Honors Program has made changes to the requirements for Honors Scholar eligibility, removing Honors Seminars and therefore getting rid of the 15-credit requirement. From now on, students must take 18 credit hours of Honors coursework, regardless of the type of class offered. This requirement had previously allowed only 15 credits if it included an Honors Seminar.

The Honors Faculty Advisory Committee, which is composed of 12 faculty and one student representative, voted on this proposal at their April 9 meeting. The removal of the 15-credit option was a result of confusion over the listing of a Seminar, making it difficult to track registration, as well as low enrollment in the seminar classes themselves, which often led to last-minute cancellations.

An Honors Seminar is the Honors version of a Learning Community or a 2820 Selected Topic course. These classes will still be offered, but they will now count towards the 18-credit hour requirement.

Lisa Higgins, director of the Honors Program and professor of English, said the decision came from discussions with the National Collegiate Honors Council, an association aimed at creating and improving Honors programs in undergraduate institutions. Feedback gathered by the council showed the difference between a Seminar and a regular Honors course was confusing for students.

“Traditionally speaking, a seminar is a small group of students that is discussion-oriented, and that is how all of the honors classes generally are,” said Higgins. “It would seem that we are labeling these kinds as seminars, but [every honors course] are all kind of seminars. It came to the point where people on the committee felt it was time to just retire it.”

The Honors Program has also created the option to turn any class into an honors course with the Honors Contract. Students work with their professors to create a special project outside of the curriculum and present it to their class or another audience. Since its creation in 2019, about 200 of the 227 Honors Contracts attempted will have been successfully submitted by the end of the Spring 2024 semester.

“Before it was just Honors courses and taking perhaps an Honors Seminar,” said Higgins. “But sometimes students couldn’t get all their hours in with what we were offering. They fulfill a lot of gen eds. So, once a student gets further into their major, the Honors Contract is a really great way to get a little bit of distinguishing experience.”

The Honors Program, through its Honors courses and the contract itself, has emphasized the discussion of students’ ideas and the presentation of academic work.

“Finding an audience that is larger than just the professor to give the student the experience of possibly getting feedback, answering questions, and getting some response,” said Higgins. “In Honors, a big part of it is sharing; being part of the bigger academic community, the scholarly community and making it more of a public discussion.”

Student Lucille Sugarman is part of the Honors Student Advisory Committee and has taken Honors courses as well as Honors Contracts. She says that the changes are helpful to the overall Honors student experience.

“The previous format, where a student could either complete 18 credits or complete 15 credits with an Honors Seminar, was confusing in its non-uniformity,” said Sugarman. “I had always planned, even prior to this change in policy, to go the 18 credit route. I believe that the way the Program is proceeding – with a single, clear requirement to obtain the Honors Scholar distinction upon graduation – is beneficial to the success of Honors Students throughout COD.”

Sugarman also emphasizes the importance of Honors classes to her college and academic career.

“The honors classroom format, especially the factor of the presentation requirement, helps me to develop various skills, including respectful discourse, public speaking, and personal advocacy,” said Sugarman. “Honestly, though, the quality of the Honors Program that I value the most is community. Surrounding myself with like-minded individuals, all of whom have various worldviews I can expose myself to, enhances my learning experience and my life.”

To take honors courses, students must have a 3.2 GPA or above, which roughly translates to a B average. Additionally, the Honors Scholar distinction is only eligible for students who graduate. Students who take 9 or more Honors credits will receive an Honors Scholar Candidate distinction, regardless of graduation status. The distinction will be listed on your transcript.

The Honors Program website has a downloadable file for Honors Contracts. The Honors course listings for spring 2024 can be found on the myAccess course catalog.

For students who have completed the 15-credit requirement by spring 2024, the Honors Office will still accept their coursework. The Honors Office can be contacted at [email protected] for questions or concerns.

Neither COD’s Honors Program nor the College of DuPage is affiliated with the Honors Society or similar external organizations. Any emails inviting you to register for the Honors Society coming from the address [email protected] are from an unaffiliated organization.

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