Sydnee Smith, Reporter
After being accepted into the American Honors program, student Erica Myron was excited to receive the extra benefits and resources the program provides. However, Myron’s excitement disappeared after hearing she would only get a year’s worth of benefits. The 5-year program will cease to exist at Pierce College, starting in the 2018-2019 school year.
Myron recounts that she had to pay almost $3,000 in fees for two American Honors classes and one regular class. After dropping the two American Honors classes she was only given $1,700 back. After dropping the two American Honors classes, she was only able to switch into one other regular class—dropping her course load from three to two classes.
“I felt that if I couldn’t get the two years of classes that everyone else got it wasn’t worth my time,” Myron said. “I am sure it is a great program but the very limited classes and high cost were too much for me.”
It’s been said that the program ending at Pierce has not deterred students from joining; but Myron’s story contradicts that.
The American Honors program is described as a tight-knit community that provides students with resources, knowledge and support that help them successfully transfer to and thrive at a 4-year university. Honors advisors work one-on-one with students to guide them through courses, transferring and financial aid. The program was designed to create small class sizes and specialized help to students involved in the program.
With the program ending, second-year students will see no changes but the first-year students will. First-year students won’t be able to continue into a second year and earn the American Honors certificate with their diploma.
First-year students still have to pay $275 in fees with each class they take from the program. However, students will be unable to take American Honors courses after the 2017-2018 school year.
Second-year student, Lora Peterson is a member of the American Honors program. Peterson has noticed changes ever since the program announced its termination at Pierce.
“I noticed a lot of people are withdrawing socially because they’re worried that this room is gonna get taken away soon and there isn’t going to be a place for us anymore,” Peterson said. “So I don’t think anyone wants to get too attached.”
The American Honors resources will end when the program does. Students currently have a room where they can study or chat with one another. Other conveniences such as small class sizes, one-on-one advising, transfer help, scholarship help and more will be stripped with the program. First-year students already know those additional resources will be taken away at the end of the school year, possibly causing them to withdraw from the benefits altogether.
A steering committee, originally purposed to structure the American Honors program, meets every quarter. They plan to meet in October.
“At that time the committee will discuss what we think that future looks like and what’s possible,” Professor Nikki Poppen-Eagan said. She is also the faculty co-lead for the American Honors program.
Bringing concepts from the American Honors program to Pierce is possibly in the works. With the program leaving some are trying to find ways to incorporate parts of the program into the college’s practices.
Holly Smith, the dean for American Honors stated, “We’re still learning about what pieces we’re going to replicate and which pieces we’re not able to.”
Pierce could possibly create their own honors program. To bring a program to Pierce could possibly bring back some of those resources. It could possibly bring back the extra advising and transfer help. It all depends on possibilities.
International students are often drawn to Pierce College through the American Honors program and are a large majority of American Honors students. Mary Meulblok, who works in international student services has stated that, “We get probably between 25-50 (international American Honors students) per year,” Meulblok said. “But we are stepping up our efforts to recruit. We have a full time new marketing manager who has lots of great ideas and he is out recruiting constantly abroad. We’re talking about growing our marketing position and maybe adding another person. We’re gonna pick up the slack.”
Meulblok also mentioned international students make up a lot of the American Honors program and without it, the population of international students may decline. However, Pierce didn’t intend the program for exchange student recruiting.
“Originally when we partnered with American Honors, we were interested in that partnership to help recruit our domestic students to really help us grow that relation,” Smith said. “Over time the American Honors program shifted a bit more to focusing on international recruiting and that was something that was of less interest to us than the domestic recruiting.”
After American Honors leaves, the steering committee will facilitate in-depth discussions on what program could take its place. When the 2018-2019 school year starts a path will be more clear on where Pierce will head regarding an honors program.
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