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Program Spotlight

Honors Program is REAL

By Cheryl P. Rose, Houston Chronicle

What distinguishes an Honors class at San Jacinto College isn’t the degree of difficulty, it’s the style of learning. “We go deeper into a subject,” said Dr. Eddie Weller, Honors program director. “It’s a style of learning that pushes students to use critical thinking. Rather than pure memorization, faculty expect students to learn and then use the material.”

The acronym REAL (Research, Enrichment, Academic Rigor and Leadership) defines the different aspects of an Honors course. All Honors courses have some degree of research requirement appropriate to the course of study. For example, a business course might require working with a company or a nonprofit. A speech course might require attending public speeches. Students often present their research at regional and national conferences in written or oral formats, even submitting for publication.

For enrichment students may go on field trips to study the subject, such as visiting city council or an Austin legislative session for a government class. Leadership opportunities run through all aspects of the program, and some classes even use service learning, where students learn how to put into action what they learn in the classroom.

The Honors program at San Jacinto College is offered College-wide at no additional cost to all students who meet the requirements. More than 600 students were enrolled in the Honors program for the 2014-2015 academic year, an increase of nearly 500 students over the previous four academic years.

Academic rigor is reflected in the entrance requirements. To apply, students must meet one of the following requirements: High school GPA of 3.25 or above, score of 4 or 5 on an AP exam, a minimum SAT score of 1100, a minimum ACT score of 26 or be in the top 20 percent of their graduating class. Returning or nontraditional students who have completed at least 12 college credit hours in the previous five years with a 3.25 or higher cumulative GPA for the most recent 12 college credit hours are eligible. Recently, the Honors Council at the College voted that all student veterans who apply are given automatic admission.

Honors courses are available in a variety of subjects and will work within the core requirements of major degrees. To graduate with Honors students must earn at least 12 credit hours of Honors classes. Because some students are going beyond that minimum, San Jacinto College now offers a distinguished Honors award recognizing 24 hours of Honors classes.

To learn more about the San Jacinto College Honors program, and to read the Honors program annual report, visit honors.

Photo caption: San Jacinto College student Jeff Hallinan, along with four other Honors students, presented at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.