Honors Courses to begin in Spring ’17

Photo of sunrise at Palo Alto College.

By Julianna Montoya
Pulse Staff Reporter

Palo Alto College is launching two new honors courses in Spring 2017 and wants 36 freshmen to enroll.

Honors English 1302 and Honors History 1302 will be introduced as a soft launch to test the effectiveness of the program before introducing five courses in Fall 2017.

The Honors Program is “similar to what is [offered] at universities,” said Dr. Alba De Leon, co-director of the program and an Art professor.

This program targets exceptional students who have 15 college credit hours or less with a 3.25 GPA or higher. A class size is limited to 18 students and will provide more one-on-one time with professors.

Dr. Mary Ellen Jacobs, dean of the Arts and Sciences, explained that there are five components that distinguish the honors courses from regular courses. The first is that these courses are reading and writing intensive. Second, students must use primary sources when doing research for assignments. Third, an increased focus on student response and how often students raises questions in class will be assessed. Fourth, students must work collaboratively both inside and outside the classroom. Lastly, students must use e-portfolios to keep their work on record.

Next semester “each course will focus on global awareness,” said Jacobs.

Global awareness is being integrated into these teachings to increase the honors students’ understanding of other countries and cultures.

“[There’s] not going to be more work, maybe more academic rigor,” said Lisa Treviño, the Honors English professor. Treviño is also an instructor for English 1301, English 1302 and Developmental English.

“I’d like for them [professors]…to interact with the students. If I don’t understand something, I’d like to email them or talk with them in person,” said Mitchell Alvarez De La Rosa, an Engineering major.

Mitchell plans to take honors courses in English, Math and Science. He believes that this program will attract like-minded people. This is a main goal of the program since a large amount of the work given will be collaborative.

Program Co-Directors Alba De Leon and Thomas Murguia, coordinator of Tutoring Services, agree that the Honors Program will challenge both students and faculty.

The program targets incoming college freshmen as well as high school students who want to attend Palo Alto. This group is the main focus since the honors courses provided are the core classes students need to complete their two-year degree.

One requirement is for a student to fill out an online application for each course. They must also submit a piece of work they created (i.e. visual art piece, research paper).

When classes for Spring 2017 are set for registration, honors courses will be distinguished from regular courses.

The honors courses cost as much as a regular course, and they are rare to come across on a community college campus.

The deadline to apply is Oct. 31 2016. For more information, email pac-honors@alamo.edu.