The Honors Program: A First-Year Perspective

Miles Christopher, Contributor


To me, the Honors Program feels almost like the idea of fusion power. It’s something that on paper is great, and actually somewhat simple in the grand scheme of things, and if everything can fit together, everyone is happy. Unfortunately, like fusion power, the Honors Program seems to have had a lot of problems making it out of a theoretical space and into a functional model.

That is not to say that the Honors Program itself was like that, but my experience – or rather, lack thereof – has ended up placing it in that strange, almost mythic category. When I originally applied to Augsburg, almost a year ago at this point, I did so with the intention to join the Honors Program. I’ll admit that decision was heavily influenced by the scholarships available, and like most people that I have personally spoken to, I very well might have looked elsewhere for my college education had those scholarships not been available.  Time passed, my application was processed and then I was accepted. I was told that I had made the cut to be a part of the Honors Program and that a scholarship interview would be the next step. From there, everyone who had been selected for the Honors Scholarship would participate in an interview and based on those interviews, previously submitted academic and personal information, the Presidential Scholarship would be handed out.

All of that made sense: perform well in the interview, receive a larger scholarship and hopefully get started with a good footing academically and economically. However, about a month after that, the cracks started to appear. A fairly innocuous-seeming email ended up in my inbox titled: “Scholarship Day Update.” I would guess that at least a handful of those of you reading this received the same, and read, as I did, that the Honors Program was apparently undergoing a review. Thus, the interview process would no longer be necessary, with the final decision for the Presidential Scholarship awardees being made solely on the basis of the application and supplemental materials that had already been sent to Augsburg.

If that had been all that had happened, I wouldn’t have been too bothered. Sure, it was a jarring change, but at the same time, it was one less thing that I needed to stress about in an already stressful final year of high school. However six months later another email came, this one titled,“New Honors Class.” Unlike a lot of other emails Augsburg had sent me during the preceding months, this one was substantial and detailed a new class that was being offered as a way of reimagining the Honors Program. Unfortunately, due to the lack of prior information and the way that the email was worded, I had no idea that the Program was being formally suspended. This left me, and many others, in a strange position: we were caught in complete surprise when we were informed that the Honors Program was suspended and that a lot of the things that had been mentioned as requirements or possibilities – including the need to take other Honors Classes – were gone.

So, again, I find my way back to the idea of fusion power. It’s something that I would love to see work, just like the Honors Program. I want to see us find a way to better help everyone, but that hope rides on a very important requirement: things need to be said upfront. Of course, it sounds bad to tell first years that the Program they were planning on joining was suspended due to such a terrible event, but if no one tells the first years this, they end up in a twilight zone, where slowly the truth becomes apparent, but without any real explanation, leaving us frustrated and annoyed. The truth always comes out, but there have to be better ways to reveal it than this.

This article was originally published in the November 1, 2019 issue.