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MSJC > Honors Enrichment Program > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: I'm new and I don't know yet if I'll have time to do extra work. Can I start next semester?
A: Yes. You may start at any time but you will need to file a petition to skip a semester when you do not take any honors classes a particular semester.
Q: I'm a second-year student. Can I still participate?
A: Yes. Although you may not have time to fulfill all of the requirements for finishing the Honors Enrichment program, the opportunity to take honors classes is an attractive option. The challenge of exploring an area in depth and the personal satisfaction gained are certainly worthwhile — and honors classes are always an asset on your transcript.
Q: How many honors credits do I need?
A: At least 15 honors credits. In order to complete the program you must take the honors seminar (HEP 200) and four others in at least three separate academic disciplines.
Q: What If I only take an honors class or two, but don’t complete the program?
A: Even taking just one or two honors classes can be a rewarding learning experience, valuable in and of itself. And transfer institutions do like to see students who have taken on a challenge, so it can be a benefit in the transfer process, too.
Q: Are Honors classes harder?
A: It depends on your perspective. Some students find them harder because of the enriched nature of the course. Other students find them so stimulating that they don’t think of them as harder. Many honors students do better in these classes because they are comfortable in them. Moreover, the classes have fewer students than non-honors sections do, and this allows for more individualized help from their honors professors.
Q: How competitive is the Honors Program?
A: Honors students are highly motivated and competitive by nature, but most of their competition is with themselves. We think you’ll find that most honors students will be supportive of one another and appreciative of the chance to interact with other students as motivated as themselves. Take advantage! Form study groups, hang out together—make the most of the experience.
Q: Which Honors courses should I take first?
A: To finish the program in two years, you’ll need to average 4 units per semester. Although the order of courses does not always make a difference, there are two courses you should take during your first year in the Program- English 101 (which you can take as an honors course) and Math 96. English 101H is a rigorous course, one vital to your success both as a reader and as a writer of clear, well constructed essays. We have designed English 101H with your honors curriculum in mind. Because so many of our classes depend on your ability to write effectively, this class too is crucial to your success. So take English 101H as soon as you can. After your first year, make sure you fit in the honors seminar (HEP 200) into your course schedule in either the fall or spring semester so you can complete the honors program requirements.
Q: Why do you require the Honors Seminar? Will it transfer to the UC System?
A: Our main reason is that it helps you become much better at critical thinking. You also become more aware of multidisciplinary approaches to different issues. Currently the UC system perceives the Honors Seminar (HEP 200) as an independent study course focusing on a particular topic. The UC system has said it will award credit for the course on a cases-by case basis once the applicant has been accepted. The Honors seminar will be updated to articulate more closely with UC requirements during the academic year.
Q: Will being in the Honors program hurt my GPA or hurt my chances of transferring?
A: More likely it will help you. Certainly, honors professors set high standards. But they often give you extra help, too. Certainly most students have to work harder in Honors courses than in regular courses. And while some students find the rigor too much for them, many others are so stimulated that they do better in Honors courses. Many students benefit greatly from the smaller honors learning environment and subsequent personal attention from the professor thus making it more possible for them to earn a good grade. Also consider what universities such as UCI and UCLA have told us: that they respect a B in an honors class at least as much as an A in a regular one.
Q: What kind of assignments do you give in honors classes?
A: Many of our assignments are like those you’ll find in other classes. Our professors encourage you to think for yourself as do teachers in the non-honors curriculum who go beyond just training you or telling you what to believe. We ask you to study challenging college-level works and issues and to develop your abilities to articulate your insights about these works orally and in writing. We want to pique your curiosity and stimulate you to do some original thinking, certainly some critical thinking. You will read, write, speak, and above all think more deeply and intensively in an honors class.
Q: Why is there so much emphasis on writing in the Honors Program?
A: The ability to write clearly and effectively is essential to work in the university and in a career. Students’ success in all courses is dependent on their ability to read, write and think.
Q: Can I ask any professor to do an honors component for a class I'm taking?
A: Only if there is a board approved honors curriculum available for your course. Even then, it is up to the department chair as well as the professor to decide whether he or she will teach it.
Q: Why the emphasis on critical thinking? What do you mean by critical thinking, anyway?
A: Briefly, we mean asking questions, working toward clearer understanding of an argument or position, and objectively evaluating arguments and evidence so that we can decide which elements, if any, we’ll accept. Critical thinking is about developing mental alertness and enhancing your commitment to the truth. We want to strengthen your ability to detect manipulation and faulty logic (including your own). Why stress critical thinking? Because we all need to question and evaluate fairly. This is crucial to being a free and responsible human being.
Q: Will it take longer for me to get through community college if I am in the Honors program?
A: It should not take any longer since honors courses are all transferable general education courses. It will take careful planning; so close contact with your counselor and Honors coordinator is strongly recommended.
Q: How do I find out about workshops and enrichment activities?
A: Your honors professors will announce activities and the honors coordinator will periodically send emails keeping you up to date of new opportunities. Current calendars of activities are available on the blackboard community site. Get informed and get involved.
Q: Is Phi Theta Kappa part of the Honors Program?
A: No. It is a separate organization with its own set of standards and commitment to service. It’s not a program with a curriculum, as is the Honors Program. It is a club, an honors society. But as you might imagine, it’s a natural connection, and we encourage you to join it. You can connect with other serious students and become involved in another area of activities.
Q: What is the HTCC?
A: The Honors Transfer Council of California is a statewide consortium of community colleges. HTCC’s purpose is the same as ours—to enrich your education and enhance your likelihood of transferring to an excellent four-year institution. This is why the Honors Enrichment Program coordinator attends HTCC monthly meetings. This provides us with resources and a forum in which to discuss questions related to honors education, all of which allows us to upgrade our service to you. We strive to maintain realistic standards of excellence that will encourage top four-year institutions to look favorably on graduates of our program. Participation in HTCC facilitates this goal.
Q: What is the HTCC Conference at UCI?
A: Each March the Honors Transfer Council of California, together with the University of California at Irvine, sponsors a gathering at which students present evidence of their scholarly activities. We encourage you to participate in the conference this spring (see your coordinator to sign up) so that you can experience first-hand the kind of work other honors students are engaged in and get motivated to push yourself to new achievements. For those of you who get truly inspired, we encourage you to think about what kind of presentation you might be interested in doing. Your honors professors and coordinators can work with you this fall to develop and submit a proposal for the March 2008 conference.
Q: What if I want to work on the newsletter or the Honors website? How did I go about it?
A: Just contact your honors professor the Honors Coordinator. They’ll be glad to put you in touch with the student editor or the college webmaster.
Q: Should I mention honors experiences in my Personal Statements for university admissions applications?
A: Definitely. That will give you even more of an edge at transfer time. Citing a meaningful learning experience will help admissions personnel get to know you better as an individual. It will also remind them that you’re an honors student, that you value your intellectual life highly enough to work harder and take on extra challenges. As you might imagine, top universities are looking for just that kind of person. And so are we.
Q: Is the Honors Enrichment Program worth it?
A: First of all, it's a wonderful opportunity to go beyond the scope of a regular course, stretching your abilities in a field of your choice. The personal attention of excellent professors and the intellectual stimulation of other honors students will add greatly to your educational adventure. Honors courses will bring special challenges and personal satisfaction. And honors classes always stand out on a transcript.