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Opinion: Beware of the Honors Program

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Opinion: Beware of the Honors Program

Nathan Fryzek

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I joined the honors program for my second semester at Loyola but found that the courses were too difficult for me, so I left the program. I didn’t foresee having any problems leaving honors and I definitely never thought I would be writing an op ed to warn you about it, but here I am.

When I was signing up for my first honors class I was instructed (by someone who will remain anonymous) that I should take the course Islam in China, as it could be used to fulfill my world religion core requirement. I took the class. At the end of the semester I left honors, and now that course registration is open for the fall (written summer 2018) I contacted my advisor to see what courses I should take. To my great surprise, I was told that Islam in China does not actually have the correct code for a world religion course and that I might have to take an extra course in order to graduate. I thought that this must be some kind of accident or slip up in the administration, but upon further investigation I found that this exact situation has happened to many other students who have left honors.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this practice (although changing graduation requirements does in a sense reduce the value of an honors degree to potential employers), the only untoward thing about the practice currently is that new freshmen are coming into the honors program, taking courses, and then leaving the program with no idea that their courses don’t in fact count for the requirements they were told they count for. If those entering honors were told this, there wouldn’t be a problem. The only issue is that they by and large aren’t.

So beware before taking any honors course. Verify that the course can be used for the requirement the honors administration tells you it can with advisors outside of honors, and tell any new freshmen you become acquaintances with of the situation so they don’t end up graduating late or not at all.


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7 Responses to “Opinion: Beware of the Honors Program”

  1. Andres Fuentes on June 24th, 2018 11:11 pm

    Opinon by Nathan Fryzek

  2. Alex Lucas on June 25th, 2018 1:52 pm

    The Loyola Honors Program is one of the best in the country with its holistic approach and diversity of classes offered. Because of these unique aspects of the program, some of the classes offered by Honors could count for one of several different requirements, which allows the student to have more felixibility with the classes they select. The issue is not with how the Honors program counts class credits; rather, it is with the deans of the colleges who don’t keep up with the different ways in which a credit may be counted under Honors standards. Since the class was taken under the Honors program, even if the student has left the program since taking it, the class should count for whatever credit was intended at their time of taking the class with the Honors Program.

  3. Nathan William Fryzek on July 4th, 2018 9:57 pm

    “Since the class was taken under the Honors program, even if the student has left the program since taking it, the class should count for whatever credit was intended at their time of taking the class with the Honors Program.”

    The key word here is “should”, at the end of the day the de facto is the only situation that matters. If you have disagreements with other parts of the university so be it, make your argument, but don’t hurt innocent students in the process.

    The implicit contract of an advisor is to act in their clients best interest, and not telling students that their courses probably won’t count for the requirements they are told they will count for is not acting in their best interest.

  4. Naomi Yavneh Klos on June 25th, 2018 3:30 pm

    As Director of the University Honors Program and as someone with access to Mr. Fryzek’s academic record, I was surprised to read that he does not believe his coursework is counting appropriately toward his requirements.

    As in so many cases, the reality is far more pedestrian than the thrilling headline might suggest. And so, although I appreciate Nathan’s desire to protect my identity as the nameless honors administrator, I think it would be helpful to clarify what the challenge actually is and how it is addressed.

    Because honors seminars are, by intention, interdisciplinary, they occasionally can satisfy more than one requirement (although not at the same time). This enriches the honors experience, but can pose challenges in tracking requirements. Accordingly, the University Honors Program maintains a list, shared with the colleges each semester, of “how honors courses ‘count.'”

    The college advisors work very closely with honors to ensure each student’s requirements are being accurately tracked. This attention to detail continues even if a student leaves the University Honors Program. If there is a discrepancy, the college advisors reach out to honors, and vice versa. And we all seek to respond expeditiously to any student concerns.

    Cura personalis (care of the whole person) should be at the heart of all we do at Loyola, and honors – indeed, the university as a whole – is not just a checklist of experiences and opportunities, but a community of relationships. Help is always available for those who ask for it, so, if you face a challenge, just ask! Rather than “beware of honors,” I heartily encourage any former or present honors student with concerns about how their honors coursework is tracking to let me know.

  5. Nathan William Fryzek on July 4th, 2018 10:00 pm

    I didn’t name you, I just wanted to put out a public message to students to ensure that they can graduate on time. Why name me and bring this to a personal level?

    This isn’t information that a freshman should be expected to know to ask. What freshman knows the intricacies of their DPCL? What freshmen knows that honors classes don’t necessarily count for the same requirements once they leave honors?

  6. Tabitha on June 25th, 2018 7:59 pm

    As someone who was in honors and was kicked out (GPA too low) I disagree. All of my honors classes transferred over to regular core. If you do honors(and leave), talk to the honors advisors BEFORE you talk to your main advisor, because sometimes the main advisors do not know how to properly transfer honors credits over to regular core. I’m not sure who did your DPCL, but the honors DPCL and regular DPCL are different, and as far as I recall, honors does not specify world religion classes are needed, but rather two religion classes in general. I’m sorry this happened to you, and a select few others, but please do not shit on the program as a whole for not researching everything about the program before joining and then choosing to leave

  7. Nathan William Fryzek on July 4th, 2018 10:04 pm

    I am not “shitting on the program”, I am just putting out a public service announcement. I didn’t say the program has bad courses, I didn’t insult any professors who teach honors courses, I didn’t insult any honors students.

    It is unrealistic to expect freshmen students to know that honors courses don’t necessarily count towards their core requirements if they leave honors. I think to expect that of freshmen is very crass. Most freshmen (in my experience) don’t know close to anything about the intricacies of their DPCL upon admission.

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Opinion: Beware of the Honors Program