A study conducted in 2016 by the U.S. News and World Report showed that the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) was ranked first in the academic success of all accredited four-year schools in the state of Alabama. The student body’s high academic standing is due to the tremendous staff and abundant resources available at UAB. Even though the successes of the student body are commendable, there is an alarming difference between the treatment of “regular” students and those who are part of the UAB Honors College. The Honors College is meant to benefit those who earned higher scores on their state testing, but, in turn, leaves students who did not reach the “potential benchmark” at a disadvantage. As set forth by UAB Honors College’s website, to even be admitted into UAB’s Honors Program, one must have at least a twenty-eight on the ACT and a minimum grade point average of a 3.5 (Honors Admission 2017). Although the Honors Program is designed to challenge students academically, and socially, amongst peers and professors, this should be a gradual goal for the entirety of the student body here at UAB. The harsh reality surrounding a “regular” student is the lack of opportunities, such as those presented to the Honors College students. Regular students need opportunities equal to honors students in order to unlock their full potential.
Honors students are given access to quality study spaces around campus. This includes the updated community rooms of the New Freshman Residence Hall. These community rooms are a way a student can get away from the comfort of their dorm and study without the distractions of others. These can be very effective, especially if you cannot study in a public setting such as the library, but there is a substantial difference between Blazer Hall’s study rooms and New Freshman Residence Hall’s study rooms. Being a mostly honors student residence hall, New Fresh’s study rooms are extensively nicer than those of Blazer. They have desks, TV’s, and charging stations, while students in Blazer are left with a table, a few chairs, and a sofa. The most reasonable solution to this problem would be to update Blazer Hall’s study spaces. Another space that honor students’ have at their disposal is Heritage Hall. Honors students are given access to all five floors of Heritage Hall on a twenty-four-hour-a-day basis. Regular students are then left with very few options when it comes to choosing where to study. One way to alleviate this problem is to offer more study spaces, outside of the dormitories and libraries, for regular students to converse.
Quality study spaces are not the only advantage given to honors students; they also have access to more advisors, smaller classes, and more opportunities for networking. As stated on the UAB Honors College website, taking part in Honors College can “help you open doors that you didn’t even know existed” (Honors Admission 2017). This, in turn, creates a problem. Continuously opening doors for these students will make them expect doors to be opened in the future. A part of growing, as a student and professionally, is to learn to open these doors yourself and even create new doors to open. With the academically inclined students in the honors program, this begs the question: what good does it do to open doors for those who don’t necessarily need them to be opened? Instead, UAB should work to seek out the students that need help opening doors¾regardless of academic standing.
When applying to the honors program, prospective students are told they will receive priority in regard to scheduling classes. This is a reason many of the honors students I know, including myself, decided to become members of the Honors College. The ability to schedule classes before other students is beneficial on the honors students’ part. To a regular student, however, this may pose a problem. Honors students may choose a certain class to take as an elective, that a regular student needs to complete the steps towards his or her intended major. This can cause a regular student to get a professor they do not want, or even fall behind in their academic plan. What aspect of being an honor student gives them the privilege of being first in line, in respect to choosing classes.
In conclusion, being a “honors” student is in no way indicative of a student’s potential. A students’ potential should be defined by the students’ willingness to work and their motivation. However, if a student is not offered the necessary components that make up a successful college career they can fall behind. There are many solutions to these problems. This can be anything from updating Blazer Hall’s study rooms, to offering more opportunities to regular students. Here at UAB, the focus should not be to better one specific group of people, but better the student body as a whole.
“Honors Admission.” UAB – Honors Program – Home, The University of Alabama at Birmingham, 21 June 2017, www.uab.edu/honorscollege/home/honors-admission.
DiLuna, Amy. “Study Hard, Play Hard: Have Fun in College Without You Grades Suffering.” NBCNews.com, NBC Universal News Group, 8 Oct. 2015, www.nbcnews.com/feature/freshman-year/study-hard-play-hard-have-fun-college-without-your-grades-n427786.