Honors program challenges, increases student involvement in community

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Honors recognition on a degree at graduation is meant to signify hard work, initiative and excellence.

Admission to Dixie State University’s Craig & Maureen Booth Honors Program is based on GPA, test scores and an essay to determine if the student is fit for the program. Once admitted, honors students must maintain a cumulative 3.5 GPA, complete at least 18 credits of honors classes and submit an honors thesis. Upon graduation at the baccalaureate level, honors students receive the title of “Honors Program Graduate.” Honors students are also afforded priority registration and intimate class sizes. 

Cassandra Roland, a senior communication major from West Wendover, Nevada,  said the honors program is a gratifying way to get involved with the campus and community and be part of a group of people who share the same academic standards.

Roland said she enjoys the opportunity to interact with other students outside of her major and take exploratory classes outside of the department of her major. People from different areas of study each hold diverse perspectives, which makes her interactions with them interesting and engaging.

“We take extra classes, but they’re normally really fun and sometimes really unique,” Roland said. “We did a business class last spring, and it was cool to dip my hands a little bit into business even though I’m not a business major.” 

The additional coursework is harder to accommodate for students who join the program later in their college career because their schedules may not have the same elasticity of freshman or sophomore year schedules, Roland said.

Despite the additional 18 credits on top of the base requirements for a bachelor’s degree, Samantha West, a senior English major from Salt Lake City, said the honors program is worth it. Because she applied beforehand and was able to join the program in her freshman year at DSU, West said she has been able to distribute the extra credits evenly between each semester and will graduate on time. 

“Every ounce of energy I’ve put into the honors program and the work I’ve done for the courses have definitely come back to me tenfold,” West said.

The program is rigorous, West said, but it’s manageable if students have the motivation for it and are engaged in the experience.

“If college is not a challenge, you’re most likely not getting your money’s worth,” said Jeff Yule, director of the Booth Honors Program and associate professor of interdisciplinary arts and sciences. 

Yule said honors students should have an enthusiasm for learning, a desire to research and explore, and a willingness to get involved.

 “I think employers are attracted to students who have strong communication skills, who have personality, and who can point to activities that they’ve been involved and engaged in,” Yule said.

West has taken topic courses on cultural evolution, big history and even a Halloween class. Roland took an environmental science class through the honors program, which then allowed her to travel to Costa Rica on an environmental science trip. 

Honors students get involved with and also conduct community activities, Yule said. In October, the honors program helped DSU and the St. George Art Museum’s collaborative Halloween showcase, “Scary Lights and Pumpkin Frights.” In 2016, West was involved in the coordination of DSU’s Halloween Art Show. This year, the students also helped with the St. George Marathon.

West said she would recommend the program to other students.

“[The honors program is] definitely the shining point of my college experience,” West said.