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Richson: Opt in to honors

BY BRIANNE RICHSON | FEBRUARY 07, 2013 5:00 AM

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Many UI students don’t know what they are missing when they don’t participate in the University of Iowa Honors Program.

Students will receive administration emails detailing the revamped Honors Program soon. Beginning in the summer, students eligible to be a part of the Honors Program will be asked to opt to be in or out of the program, as has been previously reported by The Daily Iowan. This is part of an effort by the Honors faculty to facilitate a greater sense of community and encourage members to embrace more than just the mere title of being in the program.

In an increasingly competitive post-graduation scramble for internships, jobs, and graduate-school recommendations, it would be to eligible students’ benefit to embrace the Honors culture, which prides itself on a sense of community and student-faculty collaboration.

Honors Associate Director Bob Kirby said there are many advantages of being in the Honors Program at the University of Iowa. In choosing to opt into the program, “people become more vested,” he noted. He also said he views the advantage of college honors over high-school honors as more of an immersive experience, potentially bonding with professors and forging relationships that will positively affect students’ academic careers.

The new university Honors Program will provide for an active environment in which students who want to benefit from it inevitably will.

Holly Yoder, an Honors advising director, said “students plug in in different ways.” A landmark of the new program’s outlook is initiative in the Honors community, a diverse community spanning across campus and majors that other clubs or organizations might not necessarily offer.

Two major components of encouraging students to take the initiative are the complementary relationship between the Honors Program and the Pomerantz Career Center and the program’s emphasis on learning by doing.

Yoder said learning by doing may entail anything from being an Honors peer adviser to other Honors students, conducting research with a professor, or studying abroad. Conceptually, the learning-by-doing model also hopes to dispel a student belief that one should only seek counsel from a professor if he or she is struggling in a class.

However, students are not the only ones who must take initiative in this case. If the Honors Program seeks active members, the university must reciprocate by acting to meet increasingly competitive students who are on the lookout for résumé-enhancers. With the forthcoming option to opt in or out of university Honors, the university will be in the spotlight to continually revamp how students perceive the title “Honors.”


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