Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Honors Program Gearing Up for Next Semester

Want to take your learning to the next level? Look no further than than the Volunteer State Community College Honors Program.

The program is designed to go above and beyond what is offered in the normal classroom, according to instructor of history and program director Dr. Merritt McKinney. In the program, students are given two ways to enhance their academics by taking on additional assignments.

"We have two different ways in which we can challenge honors students. We have some classes that are just for honors students, and the other is taking an honors course by contract," McKinney said.

The specific honors courses are designed to be similar to a normal course, but the level of discussion, critical thinking, and assignments are higher. By taking a course under an honors contract, a student enrolls in a normal class, but they sign an agreement with their professor to do extra assignments, which can range from doing research papers to class presentations.

One of the main areas in which the program helps students is offering a significant level of challenge they might not be finding in their normal class. McKinney said this extra push often gives students more motivation to strive for better performance.

"I actually had a student who joined this semester who didn't feel challenged in his classes, so he wasn't doing well. The fact that he's actually doing extra work now has motivated him to do well. It's really for students who have a real love of learning," he said.

In order to apply for the Honors Program, students must have a composite score of 26 on the ACT, a 3.5 or higher GPA, or two letters of recommendation from instructors. The program has about 50 active honors students who are either under an honors contract or taking an honors class.

McKinney said there are two main benefits a student will see after going through the program. The first is the fact that having honors courses listed on a transcript will look more attractive than just the bare minimum of required classes if a student is looking to transfer to a four-year college or university. The other benefit is the level of challenge and academic discipline a student can receive if they undertake an honors course.

Classes that will be offered in the spring include a combined U.S. History 2010/Literature 2110 course, Honors Psychology, Honors Science Society and Sustainability, Honors Macroeconomics, and Honors Speech Communication. With priority registration for the spring semester scheduled to begin Nov. 10, McKinney said students who are interested in enrolling for honors classes should contact him as soon as possible.

Additionally, the Honors Program also sponsors a lecture series that meets four times a semester. The last lecture of the fall semester will take place Wednesday, Oct. 29, with assistant professor of economics David Fuqua leading a talk on the impact of technology on the workforce. The lecture will begin at 12:20 p.m. in the Rochelle Center of the Thigpen Library.

Click here to find out more about the Honors Program, or contact McKinney at 615-230-3236 or Merritt.McKinney@volstate.edu.

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