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Monday, December 22, 2014

New Honors College major aims to give undergrads an edge when applying to grad school

news@dailylobo.com

Starting in the fall, a new degree is available to UNM students.

A bachelor’s degree in honors interdisciplinary liberal arts will be offered to students next semester through the University Honors College. Students looking to major in a degree in the Honors College must meet the 3.2 GPA requirement to be accepted to and stay in the college.

They must also have a focus going into the degree, in the form of either an additional major or a minor.

Students must take 12 credit hours of a foreign language and 36 credit hours of honors courses. Several of the required honors courses are core credits, with six of the credit hours being experiential fieldwork courses. Finally, they must complete a senior project or thesis.

To minor in honors interdisciplinary liberal arts, students must take 24 credit hours in the college, including six hours of experiential fieldwork courses.

Honors student Anna Adams said she is considering a minor in the program, though she is cautious.

“I was wondering how successful it would be because it’s new. I did not think right away ‘Yes, I’m going to minor in that,’” she said. “I was talked into it when I had my peer advising session because they were pointing out I only needed a few more credits and then I would get it, so why not?”

Adams, a sophomore in her second year in the Honors College, is an English major and plans to attend graduate school after earning her bachelor’s degree. She said a minor in the program might help her chances when applying to graduate schools.

“It sounds impressive, ‘I minored in honors,’” she said. “It’s the honors program, it’s prestigious.”

Honors College peer adviser Julia Anderson said the degree gives students a competitive edge when applying to graduate or professional schools.

“What this is designed to do is you have your field that gives you that expertise, that focus area. The honors college major gives you the depth and flavor … and extras that colleges are looking for,” Anderson said.

Anderson said students must incorporate their second major or minor into their senior project or thesis.

“Regardless of what your strategy is, whether it’s complementing your main focus or diversifying your education … your interdisciplinary work has to bring together the work that you’ve been doing,” she said. “For example, if you’re taking a social justice focus with your honors work and you’re an astrophysics major, then your interdisciplinary thesis will combine those two.”

Associate Dean of the Honors College Rosalie Otero said the honors classes for the degree help students learn about subjects beyond their main focus. To do any job well, you need to know how to deal with people, communicate well, and be able to think critically and creatively, she said.

“It’s not just about a job focus but it’s about a human focus,” Otero said.

Otero said the program’s diversity of classes is ideal to incoming freshmen who want to prepare for their career path possibly changing after graduation.

“As you know people often change jobs, they don’t usually stay with one career anymore,” she said. “You need to be able to be flexible, you need to be a good thinker and a learner.”