One sunny afternoon, about a week after I was accepted by MSU and had received the “big” envelope in the mail, I ran to the post office again, eager to be the recipient of another MSU promotional postcard. On that day, I got a letter from the Honors College instead. “The Honors College?” I thought to myself. “I didn’t even know MSU had an ‘accelerated’ program.” Naively, upon sending in my deposit and housing contract, I checked the little box to accept my invitation to the Honors College. Little did I know, this appealing university program is, in reality, just another method MSU uses to discriminate against its students.
“Enjoy an exceptional range of academic options,” “construct an individualized program of study independent of university requirements” and “receive high priority in enrolling for classes” the green-and-white pamphlet read.
Who wouldn’t want these benefits in college, an education we’re paying for with thousands of dollars each year? If these are the so-called advantages of an “honors” education, shouldn’t any and all students be offered the same chance to excel? Why should a school be allowed to dictate which classes a student can pay to attend if MSU’s only out to take money from its students in the first place?
These are but a few of the bounty of questions shrouding MSU and the Honors College, established in 1956. At MSU, issues regarding gender, race, sexual orientation and religious differences are brought up on a daily basis. But the question of “dumb” vs. “smart” is never considered. Really, it is not so much an issue of “dumb” vs. “smart;” rather, it’s an issue of how the Honors College feels as though it can determine the quantity of “smartness” or “dumbness” a student maintains.
For an average state university, the application for MSU is typical. I sent in nothing more than two pages of information about my grade point average, the activities I participated in while in high school and my social security number. Besides that, there wasn’t even a required essay to submit. How, then, can the Honors College look at my GPA, my theoretical class rank and my SAT/ACT score and determine if I’m fit to be a student of “high ability and potential,” as if students without these three are useless and the scum of society?
It seems quite possible to me someone without the required SAT score of 1360 is just as smart and has the same – maybe even more – potential than a student with a perfect 1600. In fact, someone accepted into the Honors College may just be a genius when it comes to the methods of taking standardized tests but really knows nothing about math or English at all. In fact, it’s even possible that someone with a perfect 4.0 just happened to be the smartest student in his school, but if he had attended another, he would have failed every class.
Furthermore, once a potential student has been accepted into the Honors College, he or she receives benefits. In no way am I saying these benefits are bad, but they ultimately set some students, those “gifted and talented” students, apart from the “average.” This not only creates tension within the student body, but bolsters a false image of MSU to the rest of society. The achievements and recognitions of honors students are announced in pamphlets and recruiting materials as if to show all students have the chance to succeed in such widely acclaimed ways. However, it is only due to these benefits that honors students are even told about scholarships, recognitions and other awards for which they can apply.
Like student athletes, honors students enroll for classes before the rest of the MSU community. This week-long window to click on the “add” button before anybody else already puts honors students ahead of the game, giving them an unfair advantage for the early registration of classes. It is no wonder then that MSU is really a five-year college. Unless you’re part of the Honors College, registration becomes a battle of whose computer can boot up fastest at 8 a.m. on the first day of enrollment, leaving those with computers laden with mp3 files unable to sign up for even core classes.
Of course, for those honors students who are too lazy to get up early and sign up for classes during the week-long head start, there’s always the back-up plan to simply override into already-filled classes a week after the semester’s begun. With honors advisers who have complete power to bypass students into 300- and 400-level classes even during their freshman year and to override them into full classes, it seems unfair to the “average” student.
Shouldn’t the Honors College Mission apply to the university as a whole? Shouldn’t Michigan State University, not just the Honors College, serve academically talented, committed students who wish to pursue and achieve academic excellence? Shouldn’t MSU as a whole strive to ensure an enriched academic and social experience for its members and create an environment that fosters active, innovative learning? This would seem logical and just, since potential cannot be solely based upon GPA, class rank and SAT/ACT scores. All students have potential – it just depends if MSU is willing to give a chance to every student, not just those the board of admissions would rather see succeed.
Sincerely,
Demanding E. Quality

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