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The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News



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Op-ed: Northeastern’s Honors Program didn’t need saving

Jessica Xing
The John Martinson Honors Program office. Requirements for Honors students admitted in fall 2023 or later were restructured following John Martinson’s $5 million donation to Northeastern’s Honors Program in February.

John Martinson, a venture capitalist and philanthropist, donated $5 million to Northeastern’s Honors Program in February. The sizable donation aims to support a new branch of the program that serves newer and incoming honors students. 

The new John Martinson Honors Program is split into two groups: the “Legacy” half is for those admitted into Honors before fall 2023, while the “Reimagined” half is for students admitted into Honors in fall 2023 or later.

Looking at the requirements of each program side by side, it’s difficult to see the point of the restructuring.

The crux of Northeastern’s Honors Program, both before and after the donation, is the ability to graduate with an “Honors Distinction.” For the Legacy Program, the requirements involve earning a final cumulative GPA of 3.5 or above, completing four to six Honors requirements based on whether students were admitted before or after they became a Northeastern student and fulfilling the Honors Interdisciplinary Seminar requirement.

However, the requirements to graduate with the Honors Distinction differ for the Reimagined Program. To gain the achievement, students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and complete one global experience if they are an internal admit to the program — meaning they applied during the school year — and two if they are a first-year admit.

Northeastern places a large emphasis on its global experiences, but making it a requirement for Honors students to study abroad to earn the Honors Distinction seems unfair. This option may be out of reach for students who want to graduate with that distinction — tuition and program fees for study abroad programs are expensive enough without the added costs of food and other necessities. The $6,000 Global Bank Account — which Honors students can use to finance global experiences — and additional funding opportunities may help, but it still may not be enough for some.

The Reimagined Program also introduces the “Honors Impact Badge” concept, which allows students to unlock higher-level Honors opportunities after they complete their first year. Some of these higher-level opportunities include Honors Interdisciplinary Seminars and Inside the Honors Studio classes, the Honors Alumni Mentoring Network, Honors housing and more. 

In order to receive the badge, first-year students must complete three distinct Honors experiences. The first is Honors Discovery, which was required before the donation; the second is living in an Honors Living Learning Community, also previously required; the third is a choice of various academic options which, though not explicitly required, is highly encouraged. These experiences will, according to the website, “support [first-year students] to grow in their role as impact agents in their communities, both within and outside of Northeastern University.”

I can concede that completing the three first-year experiences is not difficult. Most students’ schedules will leave room to take two Honors classes, especially because there are Honors offerings for certain departmental courses, such as political science, mathematics and biology.

What strikes me as odd about the Honors Impact Badge is that it supposedly closes off the higher-level opportunities to those who do not successfully complete the above experiences. What if a student does not pass their Honors calculus class? Or if the student’s registration time ticket or the class size prevents them from gaining entry into the course?

With that comes the fact that, for the most part, the three first-year experiences were already required before the Reimagined Program with no strings attached. The reason for this change is unclear to me.

I also struggle to see the overall impact of this badge. Making access to higher-level opportunities conditional isn’t how a “revampshould work — the opportunities should just be available.

I have the perspective of a “Legacy” Honors student, so I can’t speak for how well the restructuring is going or will go in the future. I can only speak on my own personal experience in the Legacy program, and from what I can tell, I think we may be better off than our Reimagined peers.

Through the Honors Program, I have been able to take two First-Year Inquiry courses and one Interdisciplinary Seminar; I also was able to study abroad in Portugal last summer to finish off my language requirement. In my first two years, I had access to the Honors housing options Northeastern provided. I didn’t have to unlock a badge to do many of these things — they were there for me to engage with.

According to Northeastern Global News, Martinson’s donation will go toward “enhanced integration with the university’s co-op program and providing students with additional global experiential learning opportunities.” 

This is a great use of the gift, especially concerning the co-op program. From my own experience in the program, there hasn’t been much overlap between the two, and more resources available for the co-op process never hurt anyone.

The complete restructuring, however, seems unnecessary. There’s no need to fix what wasn’t broken, except, I guess, when the fix puts your name on the door of an office.


Kristina DaPonte is a third-year journalism major and deputy lifestyle editor for The News. She can be reached at [email protected].

About the Contributors
Kristina DaPonte
Kristina DaPonte, Lifestyle Editor
Kristina DaPonte is a third-year journalism major with a minor in communication studies. She is the deputy lifestyle editor for The News as well as a contributor to Spectrum Literary Arts Magazine. She's excited to bring exciting, engaging stories to the table. Follow her @dapontekristina on Twitter for updates.
Jessica Xing
Jessica Xing, Photo Editor
Jessica Xing is a third-year graphic design major with a minor in journalism. She has previously served as deputy photo editor and design editor and is excited to continue working with photographers for The News this semester.
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