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September 06, 1979 - Image 106

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1979-09-06

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Page F-6-Thursday, September 6, 1979-The Michigan Daily

LSA honors: Special courses, less red tape

By PATRICIA HAGEN
Honors students-sometimes charac-
terized by impossibly high SAT scores,
skip-grafted calculators, Coke-bottle
lensed glasses, and constant vigils in
the carrels of the Grad1ate
Library-have been variously
described as "gifted," "normal," and
even "weird."
Philosophy Prof. Jack Meiland, the
new director of the Honors Program of
the College of Literature, Science
and the Arts, has a more mundane
description. Meiland cited two charac-
teristics that he said he believes
describe most students in the program:
"Unusual academic ability" and a
desire for a "greater challenge in
college than regular courses offer."
About 400 freshpersons, who usually
have a SAT score in the 1350 range and
are in the upper two or three per cent of
their high school class, join the
program each year at the invitation of
the director.

THE PHILOSOPHY of the program
is to "maximize excellence" rather
than just ensure adherence to
minimum standards, according to an
Honors Council staff member. The
program is known by many students for
its emphasis on personal contact bet-
ween students and faculty, both in
classroom and counselling situations.
lairst and second year students
usually take two honors courses per
term, either designated sections of
regular classes or specially numbered
courses in math, psychology, and
chemistry. The honors sections are
usually small and are often taught by
the lecturer rather than a graduate
student teaching assistant. There are
currently about 130 honors sections and
courses offered. All freshpersons in the
program are required to take Great
Books 191, which covers ancient
classics.
Honors courses may be more
rigorous than regular classes, but the

average grade-point for honors studen-
ts is "possibly higher" than that for
LSA students overall, said Prof. Otto
Graf, the former director of the
progaram who retired over the sum-
mer. This is not because instructors
grade honors students more
generously, Graf said, but rather
because the students "develop the habit
of working harder." .
"THEY (HONORS CLASSES) are.
more interesting so I work harder,"
said one student explaining his higher
grades in 'his honors courses. Some
students said the honors classes did
not appear to require any more work
than standard courses.
"They (honors courses and sections)
are supposed to give more material,"
said Political Science Prof. Harold
Jacobson, who chaired a committee
that reviewed the program last year.
The average grade in honors sections is
higher because the students are "a

group of exceptionally bright people,"
Jacobson said.
Honors students are expected to
maintain a B average and about a 3.5 in
their concentration. Those who get the
"freshperson flusters" in their first
term are usually given another
semester to pull up their grades.
About ten per cent of the students
leave the program after the first year
for a variety of reasons. Some fail to
make the grade because "they become
involved in a time-consuming activity
and some fall in love," Graf said.
Others simply find the honors program
is not to their liking.
GRAF SAID that most of the fresh-
persons admitted to the program are
either pre-med or pre-law, but he said
the situation changes rather quickly.
"Many are disaverred from that
decision with the first 'C' in chemistry
or the first 'C' in economics," Graf
said.
After their second year, honors

students are expected to apply to an
honors concentration program in their
major area of study. The most popular
programs are in English, history, and
psychology.
In order to graduate with an honors
citation, students must write an accep-
table thesis during their senior year in
addition to meeting all usual LSA
requirements.
Graf said the thesis is required
because 'tin order to do an in-depth
study of any discipline, a research
project provides the best training." The
students work with a professor who is a
specialist on the subject. "A senior
honors student may be working on a
level that succeeds a masters level,".
Graf said.
ACCORDING TO the Jacobson com-
mittee, however, only 25 per cent of the
freshpersons who entered the honors
program in 1974 gradauted with a
honors degree in 1978.
Despite the supposed benefits of the

honors label, a sophomore in the
program said she did not think the ex-
perience would make any difference
when she graduates. "I don't see any.
advantage in it," she said. "It really
doesn't affect me."
She said she has stayed in the
program only because she may want to
use the scheduling shortcuts available
to honors students. 'Many LSA
regulations have been known to simply.
dissolve under the pressure of Otto'
Graf's pen. Benefits to some honorse
students have included droppin,:
classes weeks after the official dealini ,
and changing grading status from either
pass/fail to letter grading or vice-versa
long after most LSA students have beeit
allowed to do so.
Whether the above benefits will con
tinue under the new director is unclear'
Meiland said he is planning somo'
changes for the program although he
said he things "the program does a
good job now."

__

'U' offers varied class formats

(Continued from Page 3)
areas at the University, study the
history of movies and film theory, as
well as gaining practical experience in
the field of directing and editing their
own films.
One of the most popular film classes
available to students at the University
is The Horror Film Genre (English
413)-a three credit course taught by
Prof. Ira Konigsberg. Students
examine the history of horror films,
and are required to keep a journal on
films seen in class like The Bride of
Frankenstein, Psycho, The Exorcist,
Carrie, and the Invasion of the Body
Snatchers.
The School of Music offers students
from all colleges at the University a

chance to become involved in the Arts
Chorale-a singing group-ensemble
courses for most instruments, and a
number of classical and modern dance
courses.
"Our inclination is to make our cour-
ses open to everyone at the Univer-
sity," said Prof. Paul Boylen, associate
dean of the music school.
Other courses include a history of
vocal music of black performers and
musicians, experimentation with elec-
tronic and computer music, and music
theory.
Within LSA, most departments offer
a wide spectrum of courses examining
nearly every facet within the discipline.
The History Department offers a cour-
se on the history of science (History

284) which examines various scientific
theories from the philosophy of
Aristotle to Isaac Newton's principles
of motion and gravity.
In Prof. Milton Heumann's Legal
Process course (Political Science 412),
students are asked to ride for an eight-
hour shift in a patrol car with the
Washtenaw County Sheriff's Depar-
tment, and then write of their experien-
ces. Many students say the ride is ex-
citing, and, above all, invaluable in
assessing the work of a police officer.
"I was thrilled and overwhelmed at
the complexity of their job," said Susan
Whitsitt, a 1979 graduate of the Univer-
sity who went on two separate police
rides. "It's a hundred times more
valuable than reading about it."

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on Thompson St. The unique program offers community service courses for credit.

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