UH should offer additional support for Honors STEM courses

A calculator, pencil, and math worksheet on a green background, representing STEM courses in the Honors college

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

The Honors College takes pride in providing its students with perks that no other college at UH offers. Whether it’s smaller class sizes, unique programs or study abroad opportunities, the Honors College is the epitome of what all students strive for: success. 

However, the Honors College lacks in a few key areas, particularly when it comes to STEM students. There’s one thing in particular that stands out: the absence of Scholar Enrichment Program workshop classes for honors STEM courses.

As many UH STEM students may already be aware, SEP classes provide students with the means of gaining extra help in certain STEM courses. These workshops include help with chemistry, mathematics, physics and computer science. When done well, these classes can be the key to success in courses that students might find themselves needing extra assistance in.

SEP courses offer lesson plans and worksheets that correspond to specific classes. These workshops can make a big difference, and quite a few honors students currently lack this crucial tool in their inventory. 

Honors students are typically held to high expectations from their instructors, including heavier workloads and more difficult exams. While some students handle the burden graciously, no two students are the same and some require more help than others. 

Not providing SEP workshops for honors courses discourages students from seeking help when they need it. While on-campus tutoring centers are available, SEP courses offer a unique advantage to students: the material is course-specific. If you are taking an honors STEM course, however, registering for the SEP workshops is not currently an option. 

Many honors students have objected to the lack of SEP workshops available, especially when it comes to more difficult courses like organic chemistry. Some students have even said that they chose to switch out of certain honors courses because they didn’t have the opportunity to take the corresponding SEP workshop for them. Regardless, there are numerous students who choose to stay in the courses due to the smaller class sizes or because their degree plan mandates it. 

Honors students should have the opportunity to maximize their resources and receive tutoring if they need extra help. Making this change would allow the students to take ownership of their learning and help establish a better understanding of their self-growth.

But with all this in mind, it’s important to consider the challenging realities of how to support the additional program. How would the University be able to fund extra workshop courses for honors courses that typically have a maximum of around 40 students? The solution is actually relatively simple. 

Honors courses have the same course content as non-honors courses. They follow the same textbooks, learn the same material and the corresponding labs are the same. The difference, however, is the pace of the courses and how challenging exams are. 

If there aren’t enough funds to support additional SEP courses designed specifically for honors classes, can’t the honors students be assimilated into the already existing workshops? The SEP workshops are intended to provide extra practice and guidance for concepts that students might find challenging. If the material is the same, what is the harm in offering them to honors students?

Navigating STEM courses is overwhelming enough without the extra burden of taking them through the Honors College. Honors students deserve better than having the opportunity of taking SEP workshops stripped from them. Instead, they should be integrated into the current workshop courses if they feel like they need the extra support or guidance.

Amina Khan is a Public Health sophomore who can be reached at [email protected].

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