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ASU Barrett and a whole host of ?s

homerdoghomerdog 8466 replies119 threads Senior Member
Hi all

Our D21 has been thinking about smaller schools and mid-sized privates but I have to say that I know two kids at Barrett who seem very happy and I could see D21 there for multiple reasons. I have some questions, though, that I'm having a hard time getting answers to on their website.

My questions mostly revolve around class. What are the perks of Barrett? Priority registration? Do these kids ever have to sit in giant classes for things like Intro to Psych? Are they only with other honors kids and, if not, how does that work? Does Barrett truly feel like a school of 6000 students? I know they are housed together and have fun weekend trips, etc., so that's one step but I'm wondering about class and access to profs and how it's different for them.


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Replies to: ASU Barrett and a whole host of ?s

  • NJEngineerDadNJEngineerDad 218 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @homerdog

    Indeed the Barrett students get priority registration. They also get a Honors advisor (on top of the advisor for their academic field). They are housed in a dedicated dorm where they are likely to find most of their friends, but a majority of their classes are taken with non-Honors students. A few classes are exclusive to Honors students (e.g. "The Human Event").

    You may want to request access to the "ASU Barrett Parent Group" on Facebook to gather further information.
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  • PublisherPublisher 11613 replies155 threads Senior Member
    @NJEngineerDad: Could you elaborate regarding size of classes (number of students) in classes--especially introductory classes--taken with non-honors students ?

    Surprised to read that only a few classes are exclusive to honors students.
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  • NJEngineerDadNJEngineerDad 218 replies2 threads Junior Member
    edited November 2019
    @Publisher

    I looked at my Engineering freshman son's schedules for both Fall and Spring semesters to give you one data point. While he directly moved to 2xx level mathematics classes which are all quite small (70 students in the biggest one), he is taking a 1xx level chemistry class this fall where the class is size is 458 students, and he will take a 1xx level physics class in the spring where the class size is 220 students. Note however that the labs associated with those chemistry and physics classes are very small at 24 students, so I don't think that the large class size should be a reason for concern.

    The main Honors-exclusive class (The Human Event) is very small at only 20 students. And his English class is only 19 students.
    edited November 2019
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  • homerdoghomerdog 8466 replies119 threads Senior Member
    Yeah. I have to ask then. What makes it an honors college exactly? Small is 70-student math. Yikes. I was hoping it was more a college within a university but it seems that's not the case for the most important part of school which is academics. Am I understanding correctly that these kids pretty much get the same academic experience except they maybe have a better chance of getting into the classes they want? I hope all students have an adviser so I'm not sure that's a honors perk.

    I searched and searched for an honors program for S19 that would make a big school smaller and never really found it. D21 likes the idea of a big, social school but still wants small class size and I thought maybe ASU might offer a bit of that. I agree that special housing and honors-specific social events are terrific. So is priority registration but, if the honors kids still have hundreds of kids in their class freshman year then the experience is the same as the non-honors kids. It makes me wonder why honors programs are a selling point.
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 2196 replies21 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2019
    @homerdog I think you may be mixing up Honors College specific required classes (typically some General Eds, writing and potentially an Honors thesis class, so maybe 1 per semester averaged over 4 years) with Honors sequences in your major, which may or may not exist depending on the size of the major, and are typically not compulsory for members of the Honors College.

    Those sequences (which seem to be relatively common for first and second year math and some sciences at larger universities - in later years they become irrelevant because all classes are small and challenging) are smaller, more challenging classes which you might take if aiming for a PhD, but even if available those students who are concerned about their GPA (especially if merit scholarships depend on it) are not necessarily going to choose that option, and they usually wouldn’t take all Honors sequences because it would just be too much work.

    As an example my D had a math Honors sequence which compressed Calc 1/2/3 into 2 semesters instead of 3 (she just did the second semester course, for which the prerequisite was a 5 in Calc BC), and had about 15 students in it (limit was 20, it supposedly rarely fills), but most of her friends didn’t bother and just took the normal Calc sequence, where the class size was 50-60.
    edited November 2019
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  • homerdoghomerdog 8466 replies119 threads Senior Member
    Thanks @twoin18. I just don't know how honors colleges work so that's helpful. It's interesting that a major in honors plus the Honors College requirements would be too much work and kid wouldn't choose it. Our S at Bowdoin is working his butt off and it's only freshman year. Doing maybe six hours of homework every weekday and 15 hours on the weekends. There's really no choice in the matter. Why wouldn't a top student at a big state school do the most they can with the opportunities afforded to them?

    So, if the major doesn't have an honors sequence then the Barrett kids take Honors College Gen Eds (I'm assuming they are more interesting and smaller classes?) and that those classes might be eight classes total for the four years they are there. Is that correct? Then, they take classes in their major with everyone else. If they take the honors sequence, are the classes smaller all of the way through? Let's say it's for a major in the humanities...
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  • NJEngineerDadNJEngineerDad 218 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @homerdog

    To a certain extent the Barrett students get the same academic experience as non-Barrett kids, but they can probably start working on a graduate degree faster, or at the minimum have a richer academic experience thanks to the Honors-exclusive classes.

    The Barrett students get two advisors: one advisor for their academic field (e.g. one engineering advisor, as all other students) but also one Honors advisor to help them graduate as an Honors student.

    Graduating as a Honors student entails fulfilling specific requirements, including getting 36 Honors credits. See https://catalog.asu.edu/files/majormap11/9HOHONALL.pdf

    While academics are certainly the most important part of school, I think that being part of a small community of high potential students (who might study different things) is also very valuable. Making lifelong friends is paramount.
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 2196 replies21 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2019
    As you know my D is at another university so I can’t say what ASU does. But AFAIK there are no honors humanities sequences at her college, other than the honors thesis. She keeps herself plenty busy by taking 22-24 credits per semester so she can do a double honors degree (160+ credits) in four years (85-90 credits for a BFA, 50-60 credits for a BSc and 20-25 credits for Honors). That’s with her other general ed requirements covered by AP credit.

    With regard to the math Honors sequences, this is what the catalog says about the Analysis (sophomore or junior level) course when registering: “This section is designed for students whose plans include graduate school in math, science or engineering, and who are interested in getting a deeper understanding of mathematical analysis than in the standard sections. Enrollment requires department consent. A different text will be used”. That’s pretty effective at putting off a lot of students, even if you do have a smaller class size. Note that the Honors sequence is just for the core courses, the optional courses don’t have enough demand to put on a separate honors section.
    edited November 2019
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  • homerdoghomerdog 8466 replies119 threads Senior Member
    @NJEngineerDad really good points there. I think, for an engineering student who will most likely be in big classes to start at any strong engineering school, I think Barrett does add something with the Honors College classes and I agree that being with the honors kids and making connections is a big plus.

    @Twoin18 ok I understand the "different" honors math class now. I guess the difference is that all math sections at Bowdoin prepare kids for grad school. There are no easier options. That's why only the super math-y kids would consider majoring in math at some of these LACs!
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  • usma87usma87 516 replies3 threads Member
    @howmerdog and @NJEngineerDad and @twoin18 - I'm on my 6th year of being Barrett parent. Both of my DS have been in science or engineering. DS1 started out Engineering then changed to Chemistry. Still graduated in 4 years with a minor in Business. DS2 is a CS major and should graduate with a MS in 4 years. In my opinion, Big school = flexibility. Barrett still gives you the smaller school vibe.

    The Honors program at ASU is different than most. At other schools, there is an 'Honors track' that has special classes in some subjects. At Barrett, students take Human Event as freshman. Regardless of major, they work through a series of books that could be the classics to more contemporary works. Then, they must complete a total of 36 hours of honors credits. This is accomplished through 'honors sections' of some classes or Honors contracts in others. The Honors contract route is usually a project, separate from class. The key differentiator is the Honors Thesis. Every Barrett student must propose and complete a thesis prior to graduation. The thesis can be within the major or not. My Chemistry graduate did his on the rise of Professional Video Gaming.

    Class size and integration - there are only a few honors sections. For the Calc sequence, they will have 2 or 3 sections for Barrett students that are smaller than the standard class of 75-ish. The honors section is like 25 students. The honors sections will fill up and Barrett students take the majority of their classes with non-Barrett students. As you get further into your major, the classes generally get smaller. Even with the large classes, the professor is extremely accessible. They will have office hours and will be available by email. There is also a great tutoring program that can help any student struggling in a given subject.
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  • murray93murray93 268 replies27 threads Junior Member
    Check out University of Texas Plan II honors program. It is exactly what you want,
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  • 2015vintagemars2015vintagemars 56 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @NJEngineerDad - my son just got accepted by Engineering and Barrett. So I am interested in hearing your experience. Could you elaborate how the first year’s classes are like with regard to engineering-specific and Barrett classes? Does he live at Tooker House or the Barrett dorm? Second question - is it difficult to change majors within engineering, or take up a minor? Thanks so much!
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  • 2015vintagemars2015vintagemars 56 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @usma87 - thanks for your detailed info and congrats on your kids’ achievement. My son just got admitted by Barrett/engineering, a lower ranked in-state school, also engineering. He’s also accepted by UA honors and engineering but right now we are just comparing ASU and our in-state school.

    With DS20’s AP credits, looks like he could skip most of the math and all of the physics classes in our in-state school, and graduate in three years with an engineering degree. However, DS is a lot more excited about ASU. We also thought, together with Barrett, he would has a lot more resources.

    We have many questions. How does AP credit work out for engineering students? I looked up ASU AP credit website but still not sure how many AP credits will be awarded for gen-ed classes. Does ASU takes college math credit? My son took AP Cal AB in junior year and decided to take Calc II/III at a local (4-year) college. Now I am a bit confused whether ASU will take the college credit, and am wondering whether he should take the AP Calc BC test? Thanks in advance!
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  • NJEngineerDadNJEngineerDad 218 replies2 threads Junior Member
    @2015vintagemars My son lives in the Barrett dorm. He is happy he picked ASU/Barrett. I do not know how changing major works.

    Regarding AP credits, things are somewhat complicated. ASU gives credit for AP, including math, but engineering students might have to retake some classes anyway, especially when the corresponding AP score is below 5. So I suggest that your son takes the AP Calc BC test with the hope he can directly enter Calc level 3 but if he does not score a 5 he might have to enter at level 2.

    The AP table is at https://catalog.asu.edu/credit_exam#AP but it is misleading as it does not explain that the bar is higher for engineering students in core classes such as math, physics and chem.
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  • 2015vintagemars2015vintagemars 56 replies0 threads Junior Member
  • usma87usma87 516 replies3 threads Member
    @2015vintagemars - I agree with @NJEngineerDad that the AP credit can be complicated. I would also suggest contacting Barrett recruiting. They can provide the most accurate information. They should also be able answer the college credit question. My guess is that the first two calc classes will be covered and your kid will start in Calc 3 (MAT267)

    Most Barrett Engineering students live in Barrett dorms. Tooker is an option.

    My DS took the calc AB test. I don't remember if he got a 4 or a 5. It let him start a semester ahead in Calc. My DS brought 27 AP credits. He could graduate in 3 years if all the upper division class timing worked out. As it stands now, he will graduate in 3 and 1/2. He is looking into the 3 + 1 and 4 + 1 programs to get his Masters.

    Changing majors within Engineering is easy*. I put the * there because it really depends on how big a shift and is the move from specific to general or the other way. For example, my older son started out as Aerospace then changed to Mechanical. That is an easy move especially in the first 2 years. Once you get to upper division courses, the impact of changes is larger. Even with several changes, my older son graduated in 4 years with a BS in Chemistry (left Engineering altogether) and a minor in business. He also brought 30 or so AP credits with him.
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  • 2015vintagemars2015vintagemars 56 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @usma87 - thanks so much! It’s very helpful. We will plan a visit in the next month or so.
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  • AngelinoAngelino 16 replies5 threads Junior Member
    Hi. How do you find out if a major offers the honors sequence and sections with smaller classes? I am primarily concerned about science classes for premed track. I can't imagine taking o-chem with 400+ students in the class!
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  • usma87usma87 516 replies3 threads Member
    @Angelino - Unfortunately outside of the myASU system, it is really tough to assess that. I have access and just did a quick search of O-Chem I and II classes for the Spring semester. Lecture classes vary in size from 12 (Internet Hybrid) to 364 students. The majority of lectures are around 50 students. There are two or three "honors" sections that are 24 students each. You will also take a lab and recitation with this class. The labs are 20-ish students. The recitations vary, but most are smaller that then lecture class.

    When you look at upper division Chemistry classes (A-Chem, P-Chem), class size drops to 36.

    I am not as familiar with the BioChem track. The BioChem classes that are required will vary from 24 to 175 in lectures. Some of Biology classes are big lectures (up to 300+) but small lab sections (24 students).

    It will come down to how you prioritize your schedule, choosing classes by size or by time of day.

    I'm not sure if this is within the rules, but Barrett publishes a list of "honors" sections prior to registration for the semester. You can see the Spring 2020 list athttps://barretthonors.asu.edu/sites/default/files/honors_courses_spring_2020.pdf
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  • 2015vintagemars2015vintagemars 56 replies0 threads Junior Member
    @usma87 - looks like we will be able to directly transfer the Cal II/III Classes since DS20 took it as dual enrollment and got college credit from a local 4-year university. FYI here is the link:

    https://admission.asu.edu/transfer/transferring-credits

    @NJEngineerDad - I have another question for both you and USMA87: how many AP credits for social science classes (e.g., APWH, APUSH, etc.) can engineering students use toward general ed requirements? I understand Barrett has separate requirement. Thanks!

    Visiting Tempe in two weeks. DS20 is very excited.
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