Honors program becomes College

Ti Windisch

Starting in the fall semester of 2017, UW Oshkosh will no longer have an Honors Program. Instead, Honors students will find themselves in the Honors College.
Director of the University Honors Program Laurence Carlin said adding the Honors College has been an ongoing process, and does not indicate huge changes for Honors students.
“In large part, it is a renaming,” Carlin said. “We are not going to be hiring new faculty, it is not that kind of endeavor. Over the past several years we have, in a way, been working towards this.”
Carlin said the Honors College speaks to UWO’s outlook, which is very positive for Honors students.
“UW Oshkosh is a great choice for high-achieving, motivated students because the future of honors education here looks very bright,” Carlin said. “And I mean that sincerely.”
Honors student Kaitlyn Peksa said she hopes students become more interested in Honors with this new change.
“Whether it is just a program or a college I think students should be interested in Honors,” Peksa said. “I have met most of my friends here through Honors classes because they are smaller and more personable and my Honors professors are the ones I know best.”
Carlin said the perception many students have is that Honors is a difficult and stressful program. He also said relating it to AP classes is not an accurate statement.
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Carlin said. “I suspect that there’s a confusion, because students come out of high school and they remember their AP classes. Those were stressful, they’re a lot more work … here’s the thing: we are not an AP program, that’s simply not what we do.”
Carlin said the new requirements of the Honors College are not vastly different from what students had to complete prior to the upcoming change.
“All we had to do was raise the requirements of the Honors College by three more credits,” Carlin said.
According to Carlin, the University Honors Council voted unanimously to make it easier for current Honors students and those entering the program in the spring semester to graduate from the Honors College.
“They will not need to take the extra 3 Honors credits that will be required beginning in fall 2017,” Carlin said.
UWO senior and former Honors student Taylor Rusch said she left the program due to time constraints and her decision to focus on graduate school, but she is in favor of the switch to the Honors College.
“I think for the people that are in it it looks better,” Rusch said. “I think it makes the college look better, more prestigious I guess.”
Peksa said her experience with Honors classes at UWO has been very positive.
“Honors 175 and 275, the classes that honors students take instead of Quest, are pretty unique classes,” Peksa said. “175 is team-taught by two professors from different fields of study, yet a cohesive class still occurs, and 275 is all about culture and the arts.”
Carlin said current freshmen with a high enough GPA will be invited to the Honors College because they’ve already proven they are adept in the classroom.
“The best indicator of success in college is success in college,” Carlin said. “If you can come in and do that well fresh out of high school, we think you can succeed in the Honors College and we’d love to see you join.”
According to Carlin, students further along in their academic careers can also get into the Honors College, although it could take them extra time to graduate.
“Existing students can get in here,” Carlin said. “If they’re very far along in their education, they would have to be willing to stay extra time, it would be like picking up another major.”