The Ithaca College Honors Program has an impressive array of comprehensive requirements and courses that offers a rich academic and cultural experience for students.
But this version of the program is the result of a series of revisions that have been delivered all at once to the Class of 2017 without a personal guidance structure in place to ensure the students can complete it.
Between the spring and fall of 2013, the Honors Program transformed from a 19-credit minor to a large, five-part curriculum, including community service, scholarly work, global experiences and a thesis, among other requirements.
Not only is this a tremendous jump in requirements in a short amount of time, but the requirements were dealt to the now-junior class without all the details being completely fleshed out. The problem is not that the program is unreasonable or above the level expected of an honors program. The problem is that the program was still in development as it was presented to its guinea–pig class.
Thus, we have a class of students that entered into an honors program without knowledge of the degree to which it would intensify, and a decent portion of these students may not graduate with honors due to a lack of guidance. Other than a presentation during the first year of the requirements and occasional updates through the Honors blog, opportunities for advising and guidance have been few and far between or not well communicated. Until now — more than three years into the program, for juniors — there has not been an organized check-in system in place, either, to help students keep track of their plethora of requirements.
The other consequence of not having a check-in system for all this time is losing track of students who are not on track to complete the program. Right now, it is shockingly easy to remain in the program without intending to complete it. Those students can, therefore, continue to use the perks offered to Honors students — most notably, the ability to register for classes before almost anyone else on campus — and probably will not be kicked out.
Having free riders in such a valuable program is not fair to those who are working hard to complete it, just as surprising an incoming class with a copious number of requirements without the kinks worked out is not fair to any of the students.