Honors Program diversifies student experience
Seton Hall has run its Honors Program for about 55 years, providing students opportunities to challenge themselves through critical thinking and writing.
Rev. John Ranieri, professor and director of the Honors Program, said one of the unique features of the program is that the honors colloquia are team taught. Colloquium in the Honors Program are academic seminars that create conversations in the classroom.
“There are always two professors in the classroom, usually from different disciplines (to explain) different points of view and bring their own expertise,” Ranieri said in an email interview.
It can be “very exciting,” Ranieri said, having “two people up there, bringing different insights and dialoguing about it, and then engaging the students in it.”
Samantha Cutrone, a senior marketing major in the honors program, said that the program strives to create conversation and tackle the questions of what it means to be human, how people think differently and why the world is the way it is today.
“I learned to think critically, take a stance, and communicate that in an organized manner,” Cutrone said. She learned that “it is the single most important skill (a student) will learn in college that translates into their careers.”
Honors students also have the privilege of going on trips either locally or abroad to further explore the curriculum’s topics and lessons. In years past, students have visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York and theatres in Greece, Rome and Turkey.
Michal Lodziana, a junior biology and philosophy major, said that the opportunity to build friendships across different disciplines has been one of the benefits of the program.
“It has allowed me to bond intimately with people outside my science courses,” Lodziana said in an email interview. “To this day, my closest friends are all either humanities or business majors. I owe this rich diversity in friendship in part to the program.”
Incoming freshmen have been increasingly more attracted to the Honors Program over the past few years. In fall 2013, 316 students applied for entrance to the program. There were 323 applicants in fall 2014 and 365 applicants for this fall semester, according to statistics provided by Ranieri.
Although the majority of the disciplines explored in the program are in the liberal arts, many students from other disciplines have been a part of the program. The past four graduating classes included 50 students from the business school, 54 biology and chemistry majors, and 86 diplomacy majors.
To encourage the participation of students pursuing majors in different disciplines, such as biology and chemistry, the program offers lowers credit requirements for some majors that are pursued in conjunction with honors courses. This allows a student majoring in science to more easily pursue a double major in another field, such as history, English or philosophy.
The Honors Program is currently working to open this option to more majors. Incoming freshman students are invited to apply to the Honors Program through SHU’s website.
Students accepted into program typically have a high school grade point average of 3.5 with a SAT Critical Reading score of at least 610 and a composite ACT score of at least 27, or submit the ACT score alone, according to the SHU website.
Ranieri says the Honors Program is forgiving of lower than desired numbers if students show a strong desire to be part of the program.
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