Honors Programs with Lots of Honors Courses–and Small Classes

We measure eight characteristics of the 50 honors programs we recently reviewed,  but two of those characteristics–the number of honors courses and the size of honors classes–may be the most important for most parents and prospective students.

In our review, we use a scale of  2 to 5 “mortarboards” to rate the eight characteristics: (1) honors completion requirements; (2)the range and type of honors classes; (3) the average enrollment in honors class sections; (4) honors graduation rates; (5) ratio of honors students to honors staff; (6) honors housing; (7) prestigious awards earned by students; and (8) the availability of priority registration for classes.

In this post, we will focus on numbers 2 and 3 above, bearing in mind that a rating of 5 mortarboards is the highest possible rating, while a rating of 4.5 mortarboards is also outstanding.

When it comes to the highest achievement in both the range and type of honors classes and the availability of small honors classes, only one honors college received the highest rating possible–5 mortarboards–in both categories.   With an impressive range of honors interdisciplinary seminars to go along with almost 70 department honors courses, the University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College certainly has a lot of honors courses to choose from, along with an average honors class size of fewer than 15 students per section.

Here are nine other honors colleges and programs that have at least a 4.5 rating in both the range and type of courses offered and the average size of honors classes.  Note: an average class size rating of 5.0 means the average class size is 15 students or fewer, and a 4.5 rating means that the average honors class size is 20 students or fewer.

Alabama Honors College: range and type of honors courses=5.0; class size=4.5

Arizona State Barrett Honors College: range and type of honors courses=5.0; class size=4.5

Indiana Hutton Honors College: range and type of honors courses=5.0; class size=4.5

Mississippi SMBHC: range and type of honors courses=5.0; class size=5.0

Penn State Schreyer Honors College: range and type of honors courses=5.0; average class size=4.5

South Carolina Honors College: range and type of honors courses=5.0; average class size=4.5

Temple University Honors Program: range and type of honors courses=5.0; average class size=4.5

UCLA Honors Program: range and type of honors courses=5.0; average class size=4.5

Colorado State Honors Program: range and type of honors courses=4.5; average class size=4.5

Texas Tech Honors College: range and type of honors courses=4.5; average class size=4.5

It is no coincidence that only one of the programs listed above has an overall honors rating (all 8 categories) of less than 4.0, and most have an overall rating of 4.5 or 5.0.










Ole Miss Honors Student Shines at Public Policy Conference

Editor’s Note: The following post is by Misty Cowherd of the Ole Miss Office of Communications.

OXFORD, Miss. – With the growing debate over federal spending, Travis Gray created quite a stir with his presentation on the economic impact of agricultural subsidies in Mississippi during the recent Southeastern Conference for Public Administration in Coral Springs, Fla.

Gray, a native of Little Rock, Ark., is a senior in the University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College. He submitted a portion of his honors college thesis, “The Economic Impact Analysis of Agricultural Subsidies in Mississippi,” which was the only undergraduate paper accepted for presentation at the conference.

An agricultural subsidy is used to pay to farmers and agribusinesses to supplement their income, manage the supply of agricultural commodities and influence the cost and supply of commodities such as wheat, feed grains or sugar.

Using the Regional Economic Model, or REMI, forecasting and policy analysis tool, Joseph “Jody” Holland, visiting assistant professor in public policy leadership, helped Gray with his analysis of a projection model of Mississippi’s economy without federal agricultural subsidies. He also worked with Gray on recommendations for the presentation.

Gray’s longitudinal analysis attempts to identify the economic impact of the state not receiving $400 million to $500 million annually in farm subsidies – how it would affect the farm and food industries in Mississippi. His analysis was that 3,000 jobs would be lost immediately the first year. But with the appropriate market mechanisms, he projected that over time, the economy would correct itself.

“The overall theme of our panel was called ‘Strengthening Rural Economies,’ which was ironic because taking away subsidies will hurt economies – immediately,” Gray said. “But we came up with policy recommendations for after we removed the subsidies.

“Our presentation really dominated the conversation afterwards. The public administrators and scholars really clung to the idea of changing the food system. It wasn’t necessarily a detailed, economic discussion of our methodology, but moreso a big picture about food in America – what we eat and where it comes from.”

The annual conference, known as SECoPA, gives students opportunities to present their research before an audience of practitioners, students and academics, said William E. Solomon, past president of SECoPA and local host chair. This year’s conference included 260 participants, of which 42 percent were students.

“SECoPA conferences are hosted in a different city each year within the Southeast, which offers attendees a chance to meet fellow ASPA members from different areas and also to network with potential employers,” Solomon said. “This conference is very student-friendly and it offers a great way to network with professors, practitioners and fellow students.”

Gray scored high marks not only for his presentation, but also for his professional demeanor during a dinner with executive council, Holland said.

“His paper spurred more discussion than any other paper in the room,” Holland said. “The comments that were received focused on Gray’s policy recommendations. There are negative connotations around farm subsidies, so the conversation was about how these recommendations would affect individuals.

“The feedback was about sharing experiences and models that complemented his recommendations of providing subsidies to local food economies. Even though it may be federal funds used, people suggested that it be managed and implemented at a local level.”

Gray has a triple major in public policy leadership, political science and French. He said he got interested in foreign and agricultural policy in high school – one of his friends owns a sustainable farm and does workshops for farmers. His interest grew by reading books such as the “Ominvore’s Dilemna” and watching documentaries such as “Food Inc.”

“There is always a political debate about subsidies, which is the basis of the industrial agricultural system,” Gray said. “Without subsidies, the system wouldn’t be as lucrative. Industrial agriculture has all these negative externalities: obesity and public health issues, environmental degradation or weakening local economy for globalization. Dr. Holland suggested we look at an economic analysis – look at how subsidies are actually manifested in the economy.

“For the ideas I’m throwing out there, it would take a complete paradigm shift in America to change the way we think about food.”

Gray is unsure how he will use his research in the future. For now, he is focusing on completing his degree. After graduation, Gray plans to attend law school and, possibly, specialize in food law.