Expanding HonorsDec 12th, 2012 | By admin | Category: Features
BY: Joseph Guarino ’12
Since 2005, Wesley College’s honors program has been a symbol for outstanding scholastic prowess and persistence, nurturing a group of students who excel amongst their peers in their academic accomplishments at Wesley. In seven years, enrollment has tripled in size. Incoming students must now be placed on a waiting list to join the program.
“With close to 75 students this fall, this growth has resulted primarily from increased efforts to communicate with prospective and current students about the honors program and the opportunities it offers,” says Dr. Jeffrey Gibson, associate professor of English and director of the honors program. Arriving freshmen must have maintained a 3.3 GPA in high school and must have earned a score of at least 1400 on their SATs. An essay or letter of recommendation also is required for admission to the program.
Gibson is pleased with the diversity among incoming honors students. “We currently have students from almost every major on campus, numerous student-athletes and several students involved in student clubs, organizations and Student Government Association,” he says.
Incoming honors students this year have a new opportunity for housing. Roe Hall, one of the traditional halls on Wesley’s campus, now includes a floor dedicated to honors students. The amenities in Roe include lobbies on each floor reserved as study areas for hard working honors students.
Honors housing is not a new idea at Wesley, however, as the Joseph S. Bellmeyer Honors House has been dedicated exclusively to returning students enrolled in the honors program since 2005. The honors house, which has room for 12 students, has eight residents living there this semester. One of them is Catherine Gross, a sophomore majoring in biological chemistry.
“Living in the honors house is really conducive to studying, compared to when I lived in the dorms last year, where it was just really loud and hard to get anything done inside of the dorm rooms,” Gross says. “In the house it’s quiet, with only seven or eight of us living there, so it’s nice.”
Being a part of the honors program at Wesley comes with a variety of academic advantages, including the opportunity to attend four seminars and participate in two independent study choices. Students in the program also receive the same registration priority as seniors over other students when it comes time to sign up for next semester’s courses.
Zac Lebeau, an English major in his sophomore year, sees the priority registration as a crucial benefit for the program. “As a sophomore, the early priority class scheduling has definitely helped me. I’m able to get into the classes I need,” Lebeau says. “That’s probably the biggest benefit of all for me since I’m only a sophomore.”
Honors students also benefit from smaller classes, receiving individual attention from faculty members who share the same drive and dedication as the students that they mentor. This helps promote each student’s personal growth in academia and perpetuates the hard work ethic for which the honors program proudly stands.
Due to increased participation in the honors program, the number of faculty teaching honors courses has tripled from four to 12, along with an increase in honors courses from three to eight per semester in order to accommodate incoming honors students. Erich Gillespie, a senior math major, describes the faculty’s involvement as helpful for the transition to college. “Being surrounded by the faculty of the honors program makes it very easy, because you’re still young and that transition would’ve been a lot more difficult if I didn’t have professors like Dr. Armstrong or Dr. Urbanas there for me,” Gillespie says.
With each semester that honors students are active in the honors program they are eligible to receive merit-based scholarships, such as the Presidential Scholarship, which is awarded to students who display a tenacious performance in their scholastic career.
Special school trips and events are offered exclusively to students enrolled in the program as opportunities to broaden horizons and provide the students with experiences that they will carry with them throughout their lifetime. Gross went to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty, and Gillespie visited the religious commune Oneida in upstate New York. Another trip to Oneida is planned this October, with Gross and Lebeau planning to attend.