by Citlaly Zamarripa, pre-physician assistant major
Most college students would say that taking honors classes is only going to make college harder for them. The funny thing about this is that all of the students making those statements, have never taken an honors class. Most college students also have very stressful, busy lives. So why are so many overlooking an opportunity to make their college experience easier? Like many, I have a lot on my plate this semester, but I have not had a single “procrastination meltdown” or had to pull an “all-nighter” to complete an assignment. Taking honors courses and being part of the Presidential Scholars Honors program has truly lightened my load this semester by integrating me into a group of students that are just as focused and determined as I am, allowing me the opportunity to have amazing professors, and giving my college experience a deeper purpose.
One of the greatest things about the Presidential Scholars program is that my stress level has been lowered substantially. You are free to take in everything there is to learn because there is no intimidation in the classroom from professors or classmates. In fact, you become so close to your classmates and professors that you have the extra confidence to reach out for help from any of them if you are struggling. Also, I never need to worry about being let down by my classmates in a group project because they are responsible and can relate to the pressure that these projects can cause.
The professors help create a fun and energetic class for everyone. They also open the door for a much higher level of discussion, which in turn has allowed me to learn so much more. It is so easy to feel passionate about a subject when everyone else is equally involved.
Because the Presidential Scholars is also a serving community group, I have the privilege to be part of eye-opening experiences year round, including an international trip to Lithuania in January. I can already feel myself branching out of my comfort zone, and appreciating every opportunity to serve. Also, it is empowering to know that you are a leader in your school. This has helped motivate me to become a better educated person who truly cares about others around them. The program is continuously pushing me to get the most out of my experience as a college student.
As you can see, taking honors classes will not complicate your life, it will not overload you with any more than regular classes do, and it is certainly not boring. I encourage everyone to take an honors class to make your life easier!
Biology I for Majors taught by Susan Burgoon recently took a field trip to the BSA Hospital clinical laboratory. Here are some students’ comments about the visit:
“Wow, where to begin? My favorite thing was the robotic testing machine. It took up almost the entire lab! I also found the microlab fascinating. I learned that what we do in class will be what we do in the ‘real’ world. Everything we do in class was put into action on a daily basis here.” Katie Hack, biology major
“I’ve never been in a setting like the blood lab at BSA. It was fascinating to see all of the high-tech machinery performing tests on the countless vials of blood. I learned that there are many roles that lab technicians and other scientists must perform in testing blood. The blood lab seemed like a fascinating place to work. I personally appreciated realizing that there are so many ways to diagnose diseases and that by testing at the molecular level we can hopefully find the root cause of those diseases. This knowledge will help prepare me for a successful career in allied health.” Lauren Coward, biology major
“I learned all sorts of new and interesting information, especially about blood samples and bacteria. I have been in the hospital numerous times and have had blood drawn numerous times and never understood the process until now. Technology plays a major part in the lab—even more than I imagined.” Niki Brown, biology major
Later this semester, this Honors Biology 1 class plans to tour the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic lab and the pathology lab. They are also reading and discussing Richard Preston’s book, The Hot Zone, which is about Ebola, and working on individual career plans that include job shadows.
by Jeff Balash, computer science engineering major
Honors classes have a bad reputation in the minds of most college students. Unfortunately they are rumored to be more difficult and assign more work than regular classes. I think this misunderstanding comes from college students equating honors classes to the Advanced Placement (AP) classes they either heard about or experienced in high school. I was guilty of this myself before experiencing honors classes first hand: after a few weeks, my false perceptions had faded away.
Taking an honors class has been a big departure from my AP classes of high school. The main difference is that honors classes are simply not AP classes at all. You are not handed busy work when you walk into the room, but instead engage with the class. For example, in my honors composition class we usually start off with a discussion about the projects we have been assigned or the books we have been reading. The teacher uses class time effectively to explain the material and make sure that the students understand it. The work that we are assigned in class is meant to help us understand and help us with the bigger projects we are assigned. Also, most of the lecturing is actually done online and at our own pace. There is no worrying if you may have missed something like you would in an AP lecture. The material you are given to read does not waste your time. It is clear and to the point and helps us to understand the bigger picture of the class.
Overcrowding is an issue that can happen in AP classes, but in honors courses the class size is usually smaller. My honors composition class only has seven people in it and my pubic speaking class only has nineteen members in it. The small group size allows me to get to know my classmates a lot better and I get more one on one help from the instructor. The smaller sizes help to make students not feel like just a face in a crowd or a number on a roll sheet. The students in the course are also more willing to help one another out and there is more of a sense of camaraderie that comes from the smaller number of students.
I understand that all of us are just trying to survive college and get all of our assignments done, but don’t let a misinformed fear keep you from obtaining a worthwhile experience from college. While honors classes may seem scary, I can honestly say that being in an honors class has been one of the best decisions I have made. You don’t have to be a Sheldon Cooper to get in on this great opportunity.
The Presidential Scholars produced this humorous video explaining why students should choose Honors classes.
Now is the time to sign up for AC Honors classes. The classes offer many benefits for academically-prepared students including:
- Honors designation on transcript
- Increased interactivity, engagement and challenge
- Eligibility for AC and transfer scholarships
- Smaller classes with close interaction with motivated professors and students
- Leadership and service opportunities
Anyone with a GPA of 3.0 or a 90% average coming out of high school can self register. Students coming directly from high school may need assistance from their advisor in order to register.
Contact Honors co-coordinators Judy Carter (email@example.com) or Jill Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information.