College can be a fresh start for many students, both socially and academically. New experiences and opportunities expose us to variety of topics we might have never seen in high school. Because of this, many students discover new interests within their first year of college.
The Plan II Honors program provides students with the unique opportunity to learn more about their interests through an interdisciplinary curriculum. However, the program is one of the few honors programs at the University of Texas that only allows incoming freshman to apply. The program is also not available to transfer students.
For many students, college classes are completely different from their high school counterparts. It is highly likely that they will develop new interests during their freshman year. If Plan II is the best fit for their academic interests, all students, not just incoming freshmen, should be able to transfer into or add it to their major.
Janet M. Davis, the associate director of Plan II, said that there is a greater depth of learning and analysis acquired in many college classes, compared to high school coursework. For example, her class relates her expertise in animal studies to the humanities, challenging students to apply these concepts to the environment around them. She said that these analytical practices can benefit students of all backgrounds.
Additionally, Davis said in the past administrators believed the Plan II curriculum was very dense and would be difficult for students to complete in only 3-3.5 years. However, Melissa Ossian, a Plan II academic adviser, said only 20 percent of Plan II students are only completing the Plan II degree itself, while 35 percent are dual degree students, and 45 percent are double majors in another BA major. Clearly, students can complete Plan II curriculum requirements while also dedicating time to other majors.
Creating spots for transfers is feasible. According to Ossian, the average incoming Plan II class is 185 students, and they generally lose around eight students from first to second year, which is a reasonable transfer acceptance rate for a prestigious honors program.
Alexandra Wettlaufer, the director of the Plan II program, said the only challenge of opening the program to non-freshmen and transfers is the specificity of classes taken by first-year Plan II students.
According to Wettlaufer, Plan II is closed off because its core curriculum includes a two-semester world literature seminar during freshman year, as well as a Plan II signature course. Transfer students would lose out on these valuable experiences.
However, Wettlaufer said she “would like to open up the possibility of transfer students again, either this spring, (for the fall of 2019) or 2020.” Both Wettlaufer and Davis agreed there are clear benefits to creating a small, sophomore transfer class in Plan II.
By welcoming all students, the program can benefit from a more diverse set of interests and perspectives. Plan II was originally designed to be a major for life. Let’s create the opportunity for all students to get the most from their education.
Krishnan is a computer science sophomore from Plano.