Letter to the editor: Honors Program is worth your time

Caitlyn Cullen

     As a student leader within the ULM Honors Program, I received word of your article titled “Honors Program is a waste of money” almost immediately. Your article, however, is a complete misrepresentation of Honors, evident by your categorization of the program as “nerdy Greek Life.”

     First, your article seemed to take issue with admission exceptions for remarkable students who fail to achieve a 27 composite ACT score. The Honors Program recognizes that single test scores hardly represent a student’s entire academic journey. Because of such, we have recently removed our ACT requirement for admission, following in the footsteps of every Ivy League university in the United States.

    The second part of your article addresses the perks of joining the Honors Program, some of which you’ve stated you’ve enjoyed. Our scholarship opportunities are described as competitive, but 30 involved students were awarded a scholarship this year alone. Additionally, we do not claim that housing in the scholars’ dorm is exclusive to the program. Still, it is promoted as something our students will qualify for.

     Next is where you falsely claim the perks “dry up.” Yearly dues are not exclusive to our student organization. However, unlike other RSOs, our program can waive dues for students who express financial hardship. The annual $45 requirement allows us to host socials that are free for Honors students to attend, most of which cost hundreds. Socials are hosted nearly twice a month, so it is hard to “forget” you are in the program unless you choose not to be involved. Our yearly banquet is our only event that requires attendance. Designed to congratulate graduating seniors, all students are given a free meal, and outstanding members are given prizes for their involvement.

     It’s easy to dismiss the social aspects of the program when your involvement doesn’t extend past your five (not six) Honors contracts, but even then, contracts are not to add to your coursework and shouldn’t be “dreaded.” They are designed for students to work one-on-one with a professor in their major, creating a plethora of opportunities for research, conference presentations, and internships if an effort is put in to do so. Ironically, your article was published hours before another by ULM, one that included seven Honors students presenting their independent research to colleagues, professors, and administrators from multiple colleges and universities in the southern United States.

     I want to mention some perks you did not include in your essay—small class sizes, an exclusive Honors lounge, and a built-in safety net of like-minded colleagues. If nothing in this letter entices you, however, it is easy to reach out to a class representative or our director to make suggestions on how to improve our program. Ultimately, if you decide Honors is not for you, an easy way to save $45 and not “dread” contracts is to leave the program. We’ll always support our fellow Honors students, but I cannot deny the benefits from the program differ depending on a student’s involvement and effort.