Curious Credits: An Alternative Way to Earn Honors Credit

Sydney Disabato

Beyond Principles of Chemistry I and II, Rhetoric, Interpretation of Literature, and other general education classes, what non-traditional classes does Honors offer to students who are excited to learn something new, something out of the ordinary? While students may doubt they have much power over course options, there are many ways to fulfill Honors credits–both coursework and experiential learning–through extraordinary classes.

For starters, Honors Advising Director Holly Blosser-Yoder recommends two courses taught by Honors Program staff and available to all members. As staff advisor to Honors Publications, Yoder offers a non-traditional class known as Honors Publications: From Pitch to Print (HONR:2900). Yoder describes the class as one that “teaches students how to write for newsletters, blog posts, and the alumni magazine,” along with other practical skills. Yoder also recommends a course taught by Assistant Director Emily Hill titled High Ability College Students and Wellness (HONR:2600:0004). Hill taught this class, which draws on her academic research, for the first time in spring 2021 and plans to offer it again in the fall.

Yoder touts the benefits of taking an ‘odd ball’ course outside of one’s major or minor, something that the Program promotes beginning in the first year with Honors first-year seminars and Primetime, which typically take students outside of their comfort zones. “You might discover a field of study you weren’t aware of or you might connect with,” Yoder explains. Beyond first-year seminars, many of the classes Honors promotes as electives include service learning components. Philosophy in Public, Spanish in the Community, Writing and Community Outreach, and other, more niche options are listed as Honors experiential coursework and earn experiential learning credit.

In addition to existing classes, Experiential Learning Director Andrew Willard suggests that an independent study may be a great way to dive deep into a unique topic. Willard explains that this option, HONR:3050, is a great choice for Honors students who express interest in doing a more in-depth independent study for their chosen subject with a specific instructor. Although independent studies take extra effort, students may enroll in them as many times as they would like. According to Willard, these are particularly helpful to the College of Public Health, College of Nursing, and College of Education which don’t have as many opportunities for Honors credits.

Short of devising an individualized course using the Honors Studies registration, students also have the opportunity to do a special project for a standard class using the Honors contract option which, as it is envisioned, promotes creativity and customization of project material to a student’s interest.

Both Willard and Yoder agree that students deserve to know that there are a variety of creative ways to take courses, whether for Honors coursework or experiential learning credit. Most of these opportunities can be found on the Honors website. However, talking to Honors Peer Mentors or professional staff can also be helpful.

Author Bio:

Sydney Disabato is a first-year from Chicago, Illinois and Dallas, Texas, majoring in Journalism and Spanish. She loves photography, art, and videogames. Her dream is to create bilingual articles and documentaries here in the U.S.


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