Graduating with the highest

There is a lot more to the students of the Elliot T. Bowers Honors Program here at Sam than just high GPAs.

Most are very involved on campus, holding leadership positions in Student Government, Panhellenics, and other organizations.

Over 80 percent hold part-time jobs, many of which are on campus. Joining their ranks is not as difficult as many think.

Requirements for the Honors Program are keeping a 3.4 overall GPA, and doing 10 hours of community service per semester.

“We’re always extending invitations to top students,” Maria Holmes said, assistant director of the Honors Program, said.

These two conditions give you access to one of the most sought after benefits of being an Honor student: advance registration. Students in the Honors Program register for classes before anyone else at Sam, regardless of classification.

In addition, students receive a $400 scholarship, a special Honors medallion to wear at graduation, and the opportunity to participate in the community of scholars, including cultural outings, Spivey House, travel to Honors conferences, extra scholarships, and many other activities.

The program reserves the Spivey Small House for its students, as well as a section of the fourth floor at Raven Village. Cultural outings can be anything from a play to the symphony– a night out on the town, paid for by the program.

The program recently returned from Washington, where they attended one of the three National Honors Conferences. A little known fact is that participation in the Honors Program is the only way to graduate from SHSU “with Honors,” and completing a thesis through the program is the only way to receive “Highest Honors.”

Despite these benefits, enrollment is not at the level directors of the program want, due to a stigma that other students hold.

Most think of the Honors program as extra classes, extra work, and extra time that they don’t have. But this just isn’t the case.

“Within the honors classes, it’s not about quantity of work, but quality of work. It’s more about interaction with faculty and other students, interdisciplinary learning, and a more participatory experience,” Maria Holmes said.

Only two additional courses are required, in the form of two seminar classes. The rest of the required hours fit into all degree plans, and any class can be made an “honors class” through contracts: special agreements made between student and professor, adding a level of participation to a regular undergraduate course.

To increase enrollment, every year the Honors Program hosts a High School Honors Dinner, in which over 400 students and their parents are invited to come and see what the program is all about, and hopefully join.

The Honors Program is now accepting applications, which can be brought to their main office in ABIV 201.

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