College (Latin) Honors are bestowed by the faculty Committee on Honors, Awards, and Prizes and given to those students who, in the assessment of the faculty, have demonstrated extraordinary achievement in their academic programs. Specifically, College Honors rewards breadth, depth and rigor of academic program, high academic achievement, and outstanding work beyond that which is required for the degree.
All Columbia College students work extremely hard throughout their four years and some students may be disappointed to learn that they have not earned College Honors. However, no more than 25% of the graduating class may be awarded summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude. Not being the recipient of College Honors in no way undermines the intellectual commitment and curiosity that a student has demonstrated while in the College.
That said, some students can be particularly disappointed to learn that they did not receive College Honors. Here is a selection of questions typically asked each year:
What is the GPA cut-off for College Honors?
There is no specific GPA cut-off for College Honors. Each year 35% of the graduating class, those with the highest GPAs, are identified as eligible for College Honors. The faculty Committee on Honors, Awards, and Prizes then reviews these students' transcripts and faculty recommendations to determine which of the top 25% will actually receive honors. As elucidated below, this determination will take into account a number of factors, only one of which is GPA.
What was the specific reason I didn’t get honors, as I meet all of the criteria in the Bulletin?
Many students meet all of the criteria identified in the College Bulletin, however because only 25% of all graduating seniors can receive College Honors it is always the case that not all students who meet the criteria will receive Honors. The faculty Committee on Honors, Awards, and Prizes takes great care to fully assess the transcripts and faculty recommendations of all eligible students but, with a specific limit on the number of students who can receive Honors, some students will not be as competitive as others.
Do my senior grades matter?
Yes, your senior grades matter greatly. The faculty Committee on Honors, Awards, and Prizes reviews your transcript and grades earned prior to the senior spring semester. While the Committee therefore does not see your senior spring grades, faculty recommenders will include information regarding your current performance in your spring classes. Moreover, the committee will examine the selection of courses in which you are enrolled during your senior spring.
Which professors recommended me?
Faculty members in the department in which you are majoring are asked to provide an assessment of your academic performance. Each department will organize this differently, but all relevant faculty members are consulted. In addition, faculty members of other departments are invited to add comments in the online recommendation system regarding any student if it is their opinion that this information will be of assistance to the Committee.
My GPA was affected because I took advanced classes, is that taken into account?
Yes. The faculty Committee reviews all transcripts and takes particular note of those academic records which suggest that the students were intellectually adventurous. Adventurousness might mean students who took a range of electives outside of their major and/or students who have taken more advanced classes in their field.
I transferred from another school, are those grades taken into account?
Because ensuring equity in the process is vital, the faculty Committee reviews all transfer grades and may recalibrate students' cumulative GPAs.
I studied abroad while a Columbia College student, are those grades taken into account?
Again, because equity is important, the faculty Committee also reviews study abroad transcripts and may recalibrate students' cumulative GPAs.
I have a disciplinary record, is that taken into account?
Yes. The faculty committee takes very seriously students' conduct, for it reflects on the integrity of the entire class and school. Students who have disciplinary record, either academic or behavioral, can expect to receive no College Honors.
I applied for the degree after the December 1st deadline. Was I considered for honors?
College Honors are determined in late April or early May. The list of eligible students is drawn in February from those students who graduated in the previous October and February, and those students who intend to graduate in May. Intention to graduate can only be determined by application for the degree, the deadline for which is December 1st. Students who do not apply for the degree by this deadline cannot expect to be considered for College Honors.
Do extracurricular activities affect the decision?
Because College Honors is an academic award, selection does not take into account the many campus life undertakings in which students engage in. However, any student found responsible for a disciplinary matter – whether or not it was of an academic nature – might not be included for review.
Do I have to do a thesis to get honors?
Students are not required to do a thesis in order to earn honors. However, it is the case that most recipients of College Honors have conducted a senior thesis, a senior project, or independent research. This is because such work enables a student to demonstrate the intellectual curiosity and rigor of academic undertaking that College Honors seek to reward.
How do I find out whether or not I received College Honors?
Students who receive College Honors will be informed sometime in the middle of May. The list of students receiving honors is then published and is also noted in the Columbia College Class Day program.
Can I appeal?
There is no appeal of the decisions made by the faculty Committee on Honors, Awards, and Prizes. Should you believe there to have been a procedural error you may contact Lisa Hollibaugh, Dean of Academic Planning and Administration.