Honors College is a reward for being smart in high school, not in college

Jordan Spindel, Staff Writer

UVM’s Honors College is framed as a place where students who excel in almost every respect can thrive and expand their learning abilities beyond the reach normally offered by the university. 

To an extent, much of this is true, with learning resources set up specifically for HCOL, a thesis project that can shine on anyone’s resume and priority when registering for classes. But rather than picking out best and brightest from UVM, it is mostly just a sorting hat for those with the best grades in high school, which doesn’t always lead to smart college students.

I am one of those “gifted” students, someone at the top of his high school class with a 3.8 GPA. The truth is that much of these grades were biased towards me. Heck, for one of my classes, as I got full marks for just turning in my homework, even if it wasn’t right. 

I was accepted into the honors colleges of UVM and a few other mid-tier universities. It’s only those with grades above a specific point that get offered this opportunity at the University of Vermont.

As I progressed through my academic career, it became apparent that HCOL is not a collection of UVM’s best and brightest. Students in HCOL are prone to the same issues any average UVM student faces.

There were people overwhelmed with work, desperate to keep their grades high enough to maintain GPAs and pass classes. 

Despite all their efforts, many could not make Dean’s list.  It was evident for me too. My second semester, I got a 3.85 GPA, yet still missed Dean’s list, demonstrating that there are numerous intelligent people outside of HCOL that are more than capable of being in it.

Yes, those who demonstrate good grades are given the option to apply to the Honors College. But this isn’t exactly something that’s shown prominently because there is only so much space in the college, and many are intimidated by the arduous process. A better option may be just offering it to those who show those good college grades that HCOL is looking for while still having time to complete requirements, likely sophomores. 

The only problem here could be the amount of eligible people, which could be solved with a tiered system of academic support and opportunity. This is seen on a smaller scale with the scholarship tiers that students are offered. This could include lesser perks that HCOL students get, such as extended borrowing at libraries and better housing.

The UVM Honors College is an amazing opportunity for those who get in, but at the same time is a separation from the wider UVM community, even if some students outside of it are more than capable of being members. While HCOL is a unique opportunity for incoming academic stars to shine, just as must opportunity should be given to students that are getting amazing grades at UVM itself.

There must be a way to make the HCOL community be more representative of smart UVM students rather than smart high school students.