Honors Candidates Form House Seminar Majority

(This article concludes a two-part examination of the House Seminar program.)

In theory, the House seminars offer small-group instruction to any student not tutored in his field of concentration. At present the non-tutored students make up less than half of the program's total enrollment.

Behind the preponderance of already-tutored undergraduates are two significant facts about the membership of an average seminar. First, 60 per cent of the regular participants are Honors candidates. Second, a majority of the students in a given group are concentrating in a field related to the seminar's topic. Also, most of the seminars are in the Humanities or Social Sciences, and virtually every department in these areas tutors its Honors concentrators.

Only Dean's List Students

A good example of a seminar that includes only Dean's List students is a Quincy House group working on English composition with Mrs. Edward T. Wilcox, wife of the Director of Advanced Standing. Mrs. Wilcox discusses papers that course graders have already returned to the six students in the seminar, She has yet to cover a paper.

Students who join a seminar that can not be applied to their regular work often do so for personal reasons, rather than from curiosity. Indeed, in one group of three undergraduates, two are sons of the seminar leader's friends and the other is a former freshman advisee. A possible reason for the relative success of the Dudley seminars is that some of them are open to married students' wives--two of the 14 regular participants in one seminar are wives.


These trends in enrollment point to a possible argument against the House program, for at pesent a sizable amount of money is being spent on a small number of students, most of whom are either receiving regular tutorial or are joining seminars for motives apart from intellectual curiosity. Against these facts must be weighed the claim of the seminar participant that the groups are open to any student wishing to join them, and that the topics cover interesting materials not found in regular courses.

Though composed almost entirely of juniors and seniors, the seminars still encompass only a bare 15 per cent of the 1000 upperclassmen not receiving departmental tutorial. The decision whether or not to continue them next year will depend entirely on "how they work out," according to Dean Monro, who is largely responsible for the institution of the program.

One thing, however, is relatively certain: the seminars will never count for credit, mainly because they are not organized by the departments.