The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday January 15th

No great ‘honor’ in Carolina program

Today I celebrated the one-month anniversary of dropping my e-mail address from the honorsinfo3 listserv.

And it feels great.

For the past two years, the honors program has consistently disappointed me, underwhelmed me and made me question whether our University doesn’t deserve something at least a little better.

But it wasn’t always like this.

When I got my acceptance letter in 12th grade, I was overjoyed. Not only had I been admitted to the University itself, but with my admission came an invitation to the most elite academic clique, the honors program.

I wasn’t quite sure what this entailed, exactly.

Being an honor student in high school had given me GPA inflation, sporadic doughnut days and a bumper sticker for my mom’s car. At UNC, the perks could only be better, right?

At first they were.

I got preferential housing to live with my new roommate, who was also in the program, and a breakfast at the Carolina Inn. I took a cool honors creative writing class and thought to myself, this is great.

But then again I was a freshman. I still got lost on North Campus sometimes.

As time wore on, I found it increasingly hard to find honors classes that fulfilled my academic requirements.

I had finished all of my general education stuff, and there were very few classes relating to my major.

There were no more free breakfasts, and every day the listserv spammed me with service projects and guest speakers that seemed to have limited appeal.

So, unable to take the required two classes a year, I dropped out.

Eight months later, after multiple unsubscribe attempts, the listserv finally let me go. Free at last!

The whole ordeal is pretty sad. Many of my friends who came to Carolina as excited honors neophytes also dropped the program their sophomore year. Call us cynics, but with double majors and extracurriculars, we don’t have time to take the latest interdisciplinary philosophy course.

And if we wanted to, we could just sign up on our own.

UNC’s honors classes are preferential, not exclusive. If non-honors students can also enroll, what’s the point?

Those still on the listerv say that it’s being able to say you graduated with honors. But wait — can’t you do that anyway, by writing a thesis?

I am no longer worried that not being in the honors club will put a black mark on my resumé. But I still regret that the program wasn’t more appealing. At other colleges, honors programs have exclusive housing, priority registration, specialized advising. (The advising I had pre- and post-honors dropout was identical.)

If UNC is going to draw in the undergraduate talent that it wants, our honors program should step up its game.

To move forward, the honors program should look into a more wide range of course offerings that fit into students’ academic goals. It should explore exclusive offerings that set it apart from the rest of the University. At the very least, something could be done about its listserv.

UNC’s honors program has the potential to be a great asset for our University, but if it can’t retain its students, its use is severely limited.


Hannah Thurman is a junior journalism and Chinese major from Raleigh. Contact Hannah at

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