Category Archives: Obstacles for Students

Maintaining an Honors Community During the Pandemic

As the new term began, I noticed an increase in messages from students in the Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa. I also noticed more students joining both groups. Given that everyone is studying and working from home, the physical college is closed to everyone but the few employees who must be on campus to do their jobs, and all spring events have been canceled, it’s not surprising that students are looking for ways to connect.

So far, I’ve taken several steps to support the students and help them feel less isolated and more focused on their goals:

  • starting a new Lane Honors Program blog and a new Phi Theta Kappa blog;
  • using blog posts, email, and social media to share information about publication and volunteer opportunities;
  • working with students to research their transfer schools, curate their ePortfolios, and polish up their resumes; and
  • developing with Casey Reid a short workshop on building their first CVs based on an earlier workshop that Casey had created.

Later this term, we will hold an online orientation for new honors students, as well.

I’m so impressed with these amazing students. Regardless of sheltering at home, losing jobs or working new shifts, and moving to a remote instruction learning environment for all of their classes, they are persevering. They are, as always, inspiring!

Delivering on Our Promise

My colleague, Stacey Kiser, recently shared an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Honors Colleges Promise Prestige, but They Don’t All Deliver.” While the Lane Honors Program is not focused on prestige, aspects of the article do relate to our program. The article accurately claims that some honors colleges may promise a lot to students but not fulfill their promises.

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Honors colleges are not always fully supported by their institutions, and without that support, they simply can’t provide all the services and opportunities to the students who attend them.

The same can be said of honors programs. Without adequate support, and as my colleague Elaine Thompson has pointed out, a clear sense of where the program fits within the institution’s organizational framework, it is challenging to offer the necessary academic and co-curricular opportunities to students.

The Lane Honors Program has had support from the college, but the amount and form of this support has changed several times over the past five years. The result is that our enrollments have decreased and many honors students transfer before they colhp_logo_color_version_2_0mplete the program. The students who complete the program and transfer report back that the program had a significant impact on their success at their university, which makes those of us working on honors at Lane even more determined to see this program thrive.

In fall of 2015, the college demonstrated its increased support of the program by creating the full time faculty coordinator position that I now hold. This spring, the Honors Leadership Team and a special work group are overseeing the restructuring of the program to help students more successfully navigate the program and to ensure that they are able to complete the program before transferring. We are exploring several possibilities: instituting a version of the guided pathway model, offering honors classes during fall and spring, and running the honors seminars in the winter.

I’m excited about the growing energy around honors education at Lane. I appreciate that colleagues are stepping up to offer new honors classes and to participate on the leadership team and work group. With the college’s commitment to increased marketing, we will be able to raise student awareness of the program. With the changes to the program’s structure, more students will be able to complete the program and take advantage of its transfer agreements with four-year schools.