Q. Why do people join?A. That's the most frequently asked question. People join for many reasons, but the most common (and the best) reason is because they want to take the seminars. In any two year period Honors offers 25-30 seminars, each with an enrollment of 15. These discussion-oriented seminars are way off the beaten track.
Q. How much work is involved if I join Honors? Will it be so much work I'll get bad grades and lose my scholarship?
A. The Honors Program itself offers no scholarships, but nearly all students in Honors have some sort of scholarship from the University -- Presidential Scholarships and National Merit Scholarships are most common -- and all have a certain grade point average which must be achieved if one is to keep the award. Of the roughly 30 first year students admitted to Honors every year, perhaps one or two lose their scholarships. The reason they lose their scholarships has nothing to do with their two credit Honors seminar -- rather, it has everything to do with Calculus II or Organic Chemistry or some other bear of a course, or because they're having trouble adjusting to the freedom college offers, or because of personal issues -- boyfriend or girlfriend back home problems, for example -- which have nothing to do with academics. Alfred's Honors Program is unique in that Honors seminars do not fulfill any general education requirement -- we do not offer Honors English or Honors math, for example, which is a common model for Honors Programs. Seminars on our campus are taken as overloads, that is, in addition to a student's normal course load, and faculty understand that the purpose of Honors is to add what might be called "intellectual play" to a student's life; since many Honors students have two majors, or a major and several minors, our faculty try to design Honors seminars which are interesting and challenging without significantly increasing the student's workload.
Q. How hard are the seminars?
A. The level of difficulty varies, of course; if you join Honors you might think of it as the kind of commitment you would make for another activity, like working on the newspaper or being in a play. Except, this is an intellectual activity. Seminars meet one night a week for an hour and forty minutes. Because Honors students are always heavily involved with other activities which may meet in the evening -- the student newspaper, plays, all sorts of musical productions, not to mention intercollegiate athletics -- seminars are offered four nights a week.
Q. If I don't apply to Honors straight out of high school, can I join later? If I don't like it can I drop out?
A. The advantages of joining straight out of high school are so powerful -- for example, Honors is a great way to meet people and make friends who share your interests right away -- that you're much better off applying straight out of high school. Honors is voluntary, and so of course anyone can leave at any time. Just about no one does. We do have on campus applicants, and every year between 5 and 10 are admitted.
Dr. Gordon Atlas, Director