Section: News

Pervasive but patently false, comps myth debunked

Pervasive but patently false, comps myth debunked

Like death and taxes, some things can’t be avoided, and one of the inescapable realities of life at Kenyon is the requirement to pass comps.

By this time in the academic year, many members of the senior class have had some contact with comprehensive exercises within their major, known as “comps,” by either preparing for or actually taking them. 

Though the nature of the senior exercise varies by department, the administration makes it clear on the College’s website that each senior must fulfill this requirement before graduating.

Despite this fact, not all members of the student body are fully aware of what fate befalls those who do not succeed in passing comps in time for graduation.

One theory suggests members of the senior class who do not successfully complete the required examinations in a specific major receive a generic “liberal arts” degree at Commencement.

In an informal survey, the Collegian found four of 11 of students believed the myth, and almost all surveyed had at least heard of the myth.

“It’s like a bogeyman,” Nate Epstein ’16 said. “Everyone says it.”

Registrar Ellen Harbourt confirmed that the rumored liberal arts degree is “a myth.” She said she first became aware of the rumor when speaking to a faculty member about five years ago.

“Kenyon College only confers one degree — the bachelor of arts,” Harbourt wrote in an email to the Collegian. “To earn the degree a student must complete one major and that includes successfully completing the senior exercise.”

Harbourt confirmed the College requires faculty to give all students a second chance to pass their comps, though the specifics of the remedial process are left to each department.


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