Honors program has high hopes

American Honors program provides contingent acceptance.

19-7-HonorsOlivia Inglin



In fall quarter 2014, Pierce College will introduce the American Honors Program, an opportunity that allows students to take more advanced courses.

Students accepted generally have at least a 3.25 GPA, if not higher. Students in the program will still earn a 90-credit degree, but 45 to 50 of the credits will come from honors courses. The remainder will be earned in regular courses.

Pierce has introduced the program for a number of reasons.

“It is our mission to serve a diverse population of learners and provide educational opportunities for all,” said Pierce College Fort Steilacoom President Denise Yochum. “(With this program) there is the opportunity to develop learning communities of students that can work together in and out of the classroom.”

Yochum also explained that the honors program will be beneficial for students looking to transfer to four-year universities.

Universities that don’t know about Pierce College will know about the American Honors Program, allowing students to transfer to schools outside of Washington state more easily.

Also, the program will increase acceptance at universities that partner with the program.

“Many of the universities that are partnering with the American Honors program will provide our Pierce American Honors students with contingent acceptance once they are enrolled with Pierce,” Yochum said. “This means that students will know that if they maintain a certain GPA and graduate from Pierce within two years, that they will have automatic acceptance into the partner school.”

Tuition for a normal 90-credit degree at Pierce costs about $9,000, but the honors program will average at about $14,000 because it offers more to students.

“The Honors program will provide additional coaching and mentoring, special activities, and extra support with college transfer applications and scholarship application assistance,” Yochum said. “Students will pay an additional amount for these services.”

New classes will not be introduced to Pierce for the program, but traditional courses will be taught differently. Yochum explained that the honors courses will be smaller and involve more seminar type classes, harder assignments, more projects and even out-of-class service learning.

Classes will be taught by current Pierce instructors; they will simply adjust for an honors course. The program also will save students compared to the cost of a four-year university.

“American Honors at Pierce is an exciting new program for the college and has the ability to offer our students a clearer pathway to top tier colleges and universities at a significantly lower cost than going straight to the four year institution,” Yochum said.  “Additionally, our faculty are excited to teach students in a cohort experience of deeper course outcomes, smaller classes and different classroom expectations and ways of learning.”

The American Honors Program will beavailable on both Pierce campuses for students looking to meet higher standards.

“I believe this program will help us reach and serve a population of students who we are not currently serving, as well as provide a pathway for current high-achieving students who would like to transfer to a more selective college,” Yochum said.

The honors program is now taking applications, which can be found on the Pierce College website.

“I believe the honors program will provide another fantastic opportunity for students to excel at Pierce College,” Vice President of Learning & Student Success Mathew Campbell said. “It will support student learning, build strong connections and engagement, and provide opportunities beyond Pierce that they may have never imagined. It is yet another example of how an education at Pierce College provides access to opportunities that support student success in achieving a diverse range of educational goals.”

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Honors program has high hopes

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