Initially introduced as a series of rigorous courses and development opportunities for students looking for a more advanced curriculum, the Lone Star College honors program launched as a full-fledged Honors College this fall.
Students who enroll in the Honors College starting in freshman year have the opportunity to graduate with an honors associate degree in arts or sciences. Students can also graduate with Honors distinctions based on the number of credit hours completed.
"All of these distinctions have a very real positive effect on a student's college transcript," said Katharine Caruso, executive director of the program. "It helps immensely with transferability when [students] are looking at colleges to complete a four-year degree."
The Honors College offers advanced level courses in a variety of disciplines while also providing opportunities for internships, leadership development and study abroad, Caruso said. The difference between the former honors program and the new Honors College is the focus on collaboration and integration with other extracurricular activities, she said. Honors courses can be integrated with everything from speech and debate to drama departments or Science, Technology, Engineering and Math departments.
"A major point of the new program's design was to provide students with close interaction with dedicated faculty to meet their needs," she said. "It creates an environment for high-achieving students where the value is placed on critical thinking."
Other perks for honors students include early class registration, specialized advising and scholarship opportunities. Heading into each fall semester, a limited number of incoming freshmen at each campus are admitted as Chancellor's Honors College Fellows, receiving scholarships for the Honors program with up to 15 credit hours of in-district tuition.
Not only does the program benefit students seeking more advanced material, faculty members are also given more creative leeway when it comes to designing the curriculum, Caruso said.
"We want to celebrate the diversity of different teaching styles," she said. "The faculty who get involved have the freedom to innovate and come up with new ways to engage students. There is no single honors classroom, just as is there is no single honors student."
The Honors College at Lone Star College launched with an all–day orientation Aug. 22 for the roughly 300 students enrolled for the fall semester. The year ahead includes several planned special events:
Students attend and give presentations at the Gulf Coast Intercollegiate Consortium, a regional conference for top honors students.
Students attend the National Collegiate Honors Council in Denver. The conference includes a variety of presentations and forums on topics, such as diversity, leadership, mentoring and honors programming.
Students present research projects completed throughout the semester during Campus Honors Day.
Students attend the Great Plains Honors Council conference at South Padre Island and have an opportunity to present research projects and earn awards for their work.
Students attend the University of Houston Clear Lake Student Conference, giving oral and poster presentations on a variety of disciplines.
The LSCS Honors College is open to students with at least one of the following:
- A high school GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
- 1150 or higher on the SAT (math and critical reading)
- 26 or higher composite score on the ACT