Barrett Honors College raises fee to accommodate largest freshman class yet

As Barrett, The Honors College swells in size, funding and fees have risen in order to hire more staff and expand facilities.

Over the past several years, Barrett has continued to grow, and this year is no exception with a freshman class totaling 1,650 students, according to a statement from Barrett's spokesperson Nicole Greason. This increase puts Barrett freshmen at approximately 18 percent of ASU's total freshman class of about 11,000.

In order to fund the growth, Barrett increased their fees from $500 to $750 per semester, which was approved by the Arizona Board of Regents. 

Barrett is committed to maintaining the same high standards it has always had by keeping a 15:1 student to faculty ratio, and adding more student study centers, lounges, classrooms and dorms across all four campuses, according to the statement from Greason. 

A part of this expansion includes moving students into the Vista Del Sol apartments in Tempe, which can hold 1,860 residents and will be entirely filled with Barrett students within the next year, Greason wrote.

Vista Del Sol, which includes a large fitness center, theater, pool, computer lounge and community center, will house Barrett sophomores, juniors and seniors. Meanwhile, the Barrett Complex will continue to house a mix of freshman and upperclassmen.

Barrett dean Mark Jacobs wrote in an email that he attributes the rapid growth within the honors college to its high quality academics. 

"Barrett’s reputation as a 4-year residential college with a top quality curriculum and unique opportunities for students combined with a caring and supportive environment, as well as faculty and staff dedicated to serving students, continues to draw students," Jacobs wrote.

Barrett's larger staff includes several new advisers, more personnel in the business, technology and development offices and 10 new Honors Faculty Fellows who teach seminars and help guide students, Jacobs wrote in an email. ASU administration has also diverted more funding from the university’s budget toward Barrett to sustain the growth.

“Barrett searches nationally, and sometimes, internationally, to find outstanding faculty. We get about 100 applications for each faculty position we advertise,”Jacobs wrote. “All Barrett faculty have Ph.D.s and are experts in their fields.”

Barrett received high praise from others as well, being called the "gold standard" for honors colleges by The New York Times.

The larger staff is being accommodated by placing faculty offices on the first floor of Sage North and moving Honors Advising to the second floor of Honors Hall where the old fitness center and Barrett Technology Office used to be. BTO was moved downstairs to new offices along the hall that leads to the dining center.

Supply chain management junior and treasurer for the Barrett Honors College Council Silvia Jones said that the increased staff is noticeable, even in the dining facilities.

Jones said that because of this, she believes that Barrett will not suffer as a result of the expansion.

“As long as they have the capacity to take on this many students, I’m for it,” she said.

Jones said that the only complaint she has heard so far is the $250 increase in the Barrett fee each semester.

Supply chain management sophomore Kirsten Holz is among those students disgruntled by the fee.

"Myself, along with many other students, are struggling with paying for school, so it's just adding to that large sum of money," she said. "It doesn't seem like a lot of money to some people, but that is money that I could use towards textbooks and general living expenses."

Holz said she felt that in addition to putting financial stress on students, the expansion in Barrett diminished its goal of prestige.

However, Holz said the fee would not deter her from being in Barrett.

"...(I) would say it's worth it overall," she said. "Although it would be preferable if they didn't have to raise (the fee). $1,000 per year from each student was plenty. There was no valid reason to increase it." 

This is the first increase the fee has seen in five years, and ASU Financial Aid and the Barrett Fee Waiver process are still in place to aid those who cannot manage the extra cost. 

Other students such as computer science major Peter Le was so outraged with the fee that he was about to drop out of Barrett, according to a public tweet.

Psychology and biological sciences junior and BHCC President Alexis Catinchi said the university has done a lot to accommodate the large freshman class.

“The Barrett experience has pretty much remained the same,” she said, discussing her own three year experience.

Catinchi said she believes the academic quality and student merit hasn’t changed either.

“The average GPA hasn’t gone down that much. All of the accomplishments are as high as they were when we were freshman,” she said. “Overall I don’t think they’ve lost any excellence.”

Biomedical engineering sophomore and vice president of BHCC Itai Kreisler said he was not worried about the larger class affecting the achievement level at Barrett either.

“If more students are qualified then more students should join. There shouldn’t be a cap so that only the best students can get in,” he said. “If (ASU) is growing, it makes sense for Barrett to grow as well.”

Related Links:

Faculty, students: Not all 'gifted' students attend Barrett, not all Barrett students 'gifted'

Tempe Undergraduate Student Government demonstrates support for new Barrett course


Reach the reporter at icastil3@asu.edu or follow @isabella_m_cast on Twitter.

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