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Honors program students frustrated by lack of courses, long waitlists

Graphic by Francisco Wang Yu

In recent semesters, Rollins Honors Degree Program students have struggled with meeting their semester course requirements due to a lack in course availability and lengthy waitlists. 

At present, the course requirements for honors students include the following: completion of HON 201 (Honors RCC course), HON 202, HON 300, HON 305S, and HON 400 (a capstone course). Honors students are expected to distribute their classes according to the five seminars in each of the divisions of liberal arts throughout their time at Rollins. 

In addition, they must maintain a semester GPA of at least 3.33 and complete a dual-semester research-based thesis project during their senior year (HON 498 and HON 499). 

Dr. Ashley Kistler, associate dean of Academics, said that honors courses are made with the intention of being “interdisciplinary and focused on global and contemporary issues so that they appeal to students with a variety of academic interests.”

This fall semester, three 300-level courses were offered along with one 400-level course and the honors-level RCC. Each of these courses allow for 18 students in each class and, as of publication, two courses were on waitlist status. 

Kistler said that each semester the honors program “aims to offer at least one course at each required level, and often are able to offer two to three at HON 202 and 300 per semester.” 

Originally, for the upcoming spring semester, the Honors program offered six courses: three honors 202-level courses, two 300-level classes, and one 400-level course, meeting the honors program’s goal for course availability. Class capacity was raised to 20-22 students per class, as opposed to the limit of 18 per class for the fall semester. One of the 200-level classes listed on the course offerings page, however, was cancelled.

“I am frustrated with the current amount of classes that the honors program offers,” said Lilian Groves. “I saw that they cancelled one of the C (social science) options, and if the art/history option was any earlier, I don’t know what I would have done. I understand that at a smaller school, certain classes will be open at certain times, and it depends on the demand for the class and the professors who are able to teach the classes, but overall it can be challenging with the lack of options.”

Kistler said that a lack in the quantity of honors course offerings stems from the fact that “the Honors Degree Program is a small program with only around 170 students, so we cannot offer nearly as many courses as we do for the rFLA program, which has the remaining 2000+ undergraduate students in it.”

The longest waitlist of the spring semester courses was HON 350S, which boasted a 13 person waitlist—almost 60 percent percent of the class’ capacity. On Nov. 12, a second HON 350S course was added, helping to lessen the waitlist. An additional HON 400 section was added on Nov. 11. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the HON 300AH course is only 50 percent full, with 11 of the 22 spots available.

Kistler is aware of the concerns regarding long waitlists for certain honors courses and said that the department is cognizant of the needs of the members of the Honors Degree Program, adding additional courses on a need-basis.

If any honors student has questions or concerns regarding their course schedule and meeting their degree requirements, Kistler urges students to reach out to her to ensure that they successfully graduate with their honors degree.

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