Honors Coordinator says honors contracts allow for flexibility and interest-based study
By: Missy Arneson
Students can turn almost any class into a scholarship-earning honors course by setting up an honors contract before the March 3 deadline.
“An honors contract is essentially an independent project that students undertake with the supervision of the instructor in any non-honors course,” Honors Coordinator Aaron Champene said.
Any student with a GPA of 3.5 or higher can set up honors contracts for any class in which the instructor is willing to oversee the project. Students can then graduate St. Louis Community College with honors by completing 15 honors credits with a B or better.
According to Champene there are many different possibilities when it comes to what counts as an honors project, and while most students will write a paper related to the course content, other projects could count as well.
“Some students do a four page paper and then do a presentation to the class,” Champene said. “We have math courses in which students do extra problem sets that non-honors students are not doing in the class. In sculpture class, students [might] construct an additional sculpture; something that’s more challenging.”
Whatever the project looks like, it must be equivalent to an extra credit hour worth of work.
“If you have a three-credit class, just think of the course now being four credits,” Champene said. “That translates into about 30 hours of work throughout the semester, roughly speaking.”
According to Champene there are multiple benefits to engaging in the honors program, including scholarships to several regional schools such as Fontbonne University, Lindenwood University and University of Missouri—St. Louis and also preparation for later classes.
“I would say it [a contract] prepares students for the four year experience, and there’s benefits in terms of admission to more prestigious universities, and scholarship opportunities as well,” Champene said.
Champene said one of the benefits of honors contracts as opposed to honors courses is the flexibility it allows students.
“We offer only about a handful of honors courses each semester and often either those courses don’t work with the student’s schedule, or they’ve already taken the class—we don’t want students doubling up on courses,” Champene said. “The honors contracts allow students the utmost flexibility in terms of earning honors credit and doing so within a schedule.”
Another benefit to honors contracts Champene mentioned is that they allow students to study their interests in a greater measure.
“Maybe a student is taking Introduction to Philosophy… and perhaps the course doesn’t cover free will, or only covers determinism and libertarianism, but doesn’t cover very much on compatibilism; in that case, maybe the student wants to research compatibilism a bit more,” Champene said. “Or if a student’s taking General Psychology and is interested in the psychology of happiness, then the student might, again, do a little bit more research on that.”
Champene’s final advice to students who might be interested in setting up an honors contract is to really consider whether they want to participate, but that if they have a GPA of 3.5 or greater, to definitely give it a shot.
“We don’t penalize students for not completing the project,” Champene said. “… there’s no reason not to participate in the honors program.”