Honors Enrichment Program Overview
Mt. San Jacinto College’s Honors Enrichment Program serves over 200 students and aims to empower them with the academic skills necessary for achieving transfer success at four-year universities. Since its launch nearly twenty years ago, the program has accomplished this goal by focusing on nurturing students with personalized and small group instruction and counseling. Our faculty and administrators provide abundant resources to Honors Enrichment students seeking greater academic rigor and enhanced scholarship. This has resulted in the Honors Enrichment Program becoming one of the most successful programs at our college.
The Honors Enrichment Program spans the breadth of academic disciplines and IGETC (Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum) area standards and provides students with numerous avenues for academic enrichment. Honors courses are offered on our two campuses as well as at different satellite centers in the district. Over the last five years the program has expanded its course offerings significantly and increased the number of sections. Course development has focused on all five areas of the IGETC transfer agreement and Honors students are challenged with pedagogies that demand development of the research, communicative, critical thinking, and writing skills expected from four-year institutions. The program is also connected with numerous student-centered support services. The Honors Enrichment Program encourages a well-balanced academic experience that promotes participation in learning and social communities.
The on-going, one-on-one interaction between students, counselors, and faculty is one of the strongest aspects of our program, providing a plethora of benefits to students. For example, faculty and counselors are able to write strong and highly personalized letters of recommendation for deserving honors students due to the close academic relationships they develop with them. These letters have helped our honors students in achieving greater financial freedom in pursuing their academic dreams, as evidenced through the impressive number of scholarships and grants our students have received. Many of our students have received UCLA TAP as well as Phi Theta Kappa scholarships, and alumni have received the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship ($40,000 per year after transfer to a four-year university). These financial awards serve as testaments to the success of the program’s personalized strategy.
Additionally, the college’s administration provides stipends for faculty to work with Honors students, as well as a conference budget for students and faculty to attend and present original research at the annual Honors Research Conference at UC Irvine, Western Regional, and National Honors conferences. The Honors Enrichment Program also provides conduits for students to publish their work annually in conference publications such as Building Bridges and scholarly journals like Scribendi.
Commuter colleges face challenges in developing a sense of community among students. Despite this, Mt. San Jacinto College’s Honors Enrichment Program has been successful in developing strong bonds among the students and faculty. Students first develop a sense of connection to the honors community through academic advisement provided by the honors coordinator and designated honors counseling faculty. We provide honors orientations in an informal atmosphere that enables new and prospective honors students to meet and develop working relationships with the honors coordinator, faculty, counselors, and fellow honors students.
Each honors section at Mt. San Jacinto College is typically limited to five openings, thereby facilitating collaboration among honors students in seminar style learning environments. By embedding honors sections within traditional sections, the program discourages feelings of elitism among honors students and promotes the sharing of knowledge with non-honors peers. In order to complete the program, an honors student must complete at least five Honors classes (including the Honors Seminar) for letter grades in three separate academic disciplines while maintaining a 3.3 cumulative grade point average and a 3.0 cumulative grade point average in their honors coursework. Honors students are also expected to meet with an Honors counselor once a semester to stay on track with their academic and transfer goals. They also must complete 200 Honors Activity Points based on their attendance and participation in Honors orientations, workshops, and other events held throughout the year.
The Honors Workshop Series offered by faculty at the San Jacinto and Menifee Valley Campuses provides honor students an opportunity to fine-tune their research, critical thinking, writing, and oral communication skills to help students become more successful in their honors classes. Workshops also focus on identifying and applying for scholarships, interviewing, preparing for Honors conferences, student leadership, and more. Additionally, the Honors Mentor Program allows experienced honors students an opportunity to serve as liaisons between Honors Coordinators and the larger honors student body as well as organize events to promote academic exchange and fellowship amongst program members and the college community. At the conclusion of each academic year, students completing the program are recognized at the college’s Honors Convocation and the Honors Program Recognition Night. Overall, the program affords students multiple scholarly, fellowship, and leadership opportunities to be successful while at Mt. San Jacinto College and in their academic and career goals after they graduate.