Students looking for that extra challenge at Lamar State College-Orange will have that opportunity beginning this August when the college launches its first Honors Program. Top-ranking students, both incoming and current, will be able to move into an Honors Program or Honors college at other four-year institutions upon graduating from LSC-O. A more intensive curriculum, more responsibility, and a more thriving learning community will greet students who step up to meet this challenge.

Requirements for acceptance into the Honors Program include being TSI exempt, having a minimum SAT score of 1200 or graduating within the top ten percent of their high school class. While LSC-O is an open-admission college, applicants to the Honors Program must provide the test scores listed to be accepted into the program. Transfer students coming from other institutions need to have at least a 3.5 grade point average or be TSI Complete.

“Several of the other schools in the Texas State University System have recently begun programs on the four-year campuses,” said Dr. Gwen Whitehead, division director of Arts and Sciences and Honors Program advisor, “and we were looking for ways to help our students move into those programs.”

Initially, three Honors courses will be available beginning this fall: the required College Success Initiative course, English 1301 and Speech 1315. Whitehead says they are looking at ways to bring two courses together, such as the English and Speech courses, so that students can see how two disciplines complement one another.

“We are trying to incorporate more active learning and more learner-centered activities in many of our courses, so it seemed logical to approach the Honors courses in that way,” said Whitehead.

More classes will be added in the future, hopefully each semester, with the same idea in mind. LSC-O professor, Andy Preslar, will be teaching the Honors English 1301 course, and says that the first difference Honors Program students will notice in course procedure and management is that instructors will hand over to the students more of the responsibility for their success in the course.

Preslar says that as part of a genuinely cohesive, thriving learning community in classes with a learner-centered dynamic, Honors Program students will learn and grow leadership, collaboration, and self-management skills beyond what would be possible through the traditional community college curriculum. Furthermore, beyond the enhanced skills and aptitudes students will hone, they will also gain an enduring sense of self-confidence to carry into the work world.

“If we’re successful, our students will get more than just a good education, which is what LSC-O offers all of its students,” said Preslar. “Successful Honors Program students will experience academic and personal challenges that will change them and help them reinvent themselves. Honors Program inductees will build more character and integrity, develop a more highly refined ethical sense, and achieve a new and attainable vision for what they can and should accomplish after college.”

The Honors Program will be open to all applicable students, of all age groups, despite how long one has been out of high school. Along with the test scores, the leadership aspects will come into play as, eventually, Honors Program inductees will be required to complete service activities for the program. Four-year institutions in the Texas State University System who already have successful Honors Programs include Lamar University, Sam Houston State University and Texas State University.

“Any student who meets the criteria should consider the program,” said Whitehead. “It seems almost too obvious that recent high school graduates would be most interested, but I would encourage students who have been out of school and are returning to consider it as well.”

“The curriculum won’t be a lot different, but we’ll be treating students like professionals, assuming their engagement and commitment,” said Preslar. “For those students who meet the challenge, that learning environment will be liberating and very rewarding.”