Increase accessibility to Plan II

Increase+accessibility+to+Plan+II

Safa Michigan

Many college students don’t have a clear idea of what they want to do with their lives, and many won’t until they get to campus and experience what the University has to offer. 

The Plan II Honors program is an interdisciplinary honors major defined by its core curriculum. Students complete yearlong world literature and philosophy classes, courses in the natural and social sciences, and unique rotating seminar tutorials before completing their capstone thesis. 

Class sizes are small, allowing for valuable interaction between students and professors. Additionally, the program’s design allows students to complete a second major while exploring a variety of subjects. It’s perfect for students with multifaceted academic interests. 

Here’s the catch — as of now, only incoming freshmen can apply, which excludes students who learn of the program after arriving at UT. It’s time for this to change.

Alexandra Wettlaufer, director of the Plan II program, revealed that a plan to accept and integrate “transfer students” at the end of each freshman year is currently in the works. Before it goes further, however, it needs to be run by the Faculty Advisory Council, an advisory group selected from UT System faculty that passes on recommendations to the Chancellor and Board of Regents.

To diversify Plan II’s student body and increase accessibility, the Council must pass on a favorable recommendation of the proposed plan to accept transfer students.

“We don’t have a fully developed plan yet because we want to run it by the Faculty Advisory Council, but we are very much committed to trying it,” Wettlaufer said. “(Transfer) students would have two semesters to have letters of recommendation from teachers who know them. This is all in its initial stages, but it is an effort to bring in students who just didn’t know about us.”

Wettlaufer further remarked that students of color are frequently disadvantaged by guidance counselors who fail to inform their students about the honors program.

Riya Kale, a government and finance junior, went to an in-state high school and never heard about the program from her guidance counselor. 

“I definitely would have applied had I known about it. Plan II allows for more multidisciplinary studies, which I was looking for because I wasn’t totally sure what I wanted to do,” Kale said. “It’s something that can translate into the workforce, no matter where you go.”

She’s not alone. Mathematics senior Annie Thompson is an out-of-state student who learned about the program from a friend on campus.

“I think I would have benefited a lot (from being in Plan II),” Thompson said. “I thrived (in high school) because I had a lot of small discussion based classes. I really struggled when I came to UT because it was such a new type of learning.”

It’s unfair that so many students never have the chance to apply to a program that might better fit their academic goals and foster their intellectual curiosity.

Jackson Reich, a Plan II and radio-television-film junior, feels that the program is currently exclusionary.

“I would totally support a plan to accept a second wave of applicants. I think that would benefit the student population as a whole and further enrich the learning process,” Reich said.

“(Plan II) is the best kept secret in Texas,” Wettlaufer said. “We’re excited about making (the program) available to more people.”

When the time comes, it’s up to the Faculty Advisory Council to take the next step to increase accessibility to Plan II.

Michigan is a Plan II and race, indigeneity and migration major from Shreveport, Louisiana.