Green River students can expect to see a new honors program in fall of 2018.
According to Vice President of Instruction Dr. Rebecca Williamson and Interim Dean of Business and Humanities Amanda Schaefer, the program is still in the process of being developed. However, the first trial will be for transfer students earning their AA, and will not include trade students.
“The biggest things that were facing now is figuring out our framework,” said Williamson. “Like what exactly it will look like taking it from a conceptual idea to put it to practice, while having a robust quality program that is affordable.”
Williamson says the program could include “slightly different content,” compared to normal classes.
So far, there are three things that Williamson and Schaefer are thinking about implementing in the program.
The first possible addition would be honors classes where the entire class is an honors section, and every student is enrolled in a separate honors class. Students in this scenario would either pass the class with an honor, or fail/not participate and not receive an honor.
The second possible feature would be the addition of honors contracts. Students would outline an honors contract with their faculty member, which details the additional assignments that the student would need to complete to earn an honor designation for the class. This would also give a concise, one-on-one experience for both student and faculty member.
The third potential addition would be some independent study or project work, which would act much like a doctorate or master’s degree thesis paper, and would give students a more hands-on experience in their field.
Williamson hopes to do all this—or a hybrid of the three— while maintaining an affordability aspect to the program that students can utilize. “Honors programs are something that are reemerging at community colleges, and we have a committee, Amanda [Schaefer] is part of the committee that’s doing the work on putting the proposal together, so there’s a lot of consideration that has to go into it,” said Williamson. “We need to figure out how to operationalize it, if there is going to be an application process for required courses first to get in.”
Early phases will definitely reflect the students honor position on their transcript, which they can use to transfer on to other colleges and university honors programs, and compete in to competitive schools.
The idea to include an honors program is not a new one. Both Williamson and Schaefer indicated that the idea has been on the back-burner for a few years due to other projects, but now that it is in motion, they have received nothing but support and excitement from the college staff.
Williamson has seen that other community colleges have found that having the designation of an honor student helps our students be competitive with schools that are hard to get into. American honors—offered at 2-year colleges across the country— is a program where the college partners with a private business.
“I was involved with that program in Spokane where I came from,” said Williamson. “The challenge with that program is it costs students substantially more money, and so where really interested here at GRC in doing our own program so that we can keep the cost in line for our students.”
Running start students, Williamson added, might have the most to gain in an honors program.