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Guidelines for Advisors

Honors Program


1. General Comments

The thesis advisor wears many hats.

First and foremost, the advisor models the process of academic inquiry for the student. It is largely through the advisor that the student learns to frame a question, to troubleshoot problems, to celebrate unexpected findings, and to produce a paper which effectively relays the discovery. The advisor should help the student meet deadlines imposed by the Honors Program. Students often find it difficult to pace themselves in a project which spans an entire calendar year, and the advisor should help the student set intermediate deadlines.

Additionally, the advisor is responsible for ensuring the quality of the project. If the project faces insurmountable obstacles, the advisor should end the project. Finally, the advisor provides moral support, encourages in the face of setbacks.

2. The Thesis

First-time advisors often question what degree of rigor is required of an Honors thesis. As the name implies, it is a baccalaureate level thesis, not merely an extended term paper. It may be thought of as a process similar to a master's project but pitched to the undergraduate. See "Overview of Honors by Major" for specific guidelines on what constitutes an appropriate Honors project in each academic discipline.

3. Administrative Issues

Scheduling Honors I: The Honors Thesis Proposal, signed by both the student and the advisor, must be submitted to the Honors Program Director no later than two weeks before registration. The thesis advisor must inform the department chair that Honors I be added to the list of the department's course offerings. The Records Office provides the department Chair with the appropriate form.

Grading: The thesis advisor is responsible for assigning a grade for Honors I and Honors II. While there may be a tendency to give the student an "A" for effort, please consider the following in assigning grades: To what extent was the student's work truly "original" vs. implementing the ideas of the advisor? How well did the student complete the assigned tasks? Did the student complete assignments by the agreed upon time? How successfully did the student incorporate the advisor's suggestions during the different stages of the process - researching, writing, and revising?

4. A Final Word to Advisors

Thank you for your time and your commitment. While you could be seeking your own objectives, you have chosen to mentor a student's intellectual pursuit. Undertaking this role indicates the value you place on working with students who are enthusiastic about learning. The impact you have on your Honors student both personally and scholastically is profound.