Southeast Missouri State University student publication

Jane Stephens Honors Program builds community for honors students

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Since the 1970s, the Jane Stephens Honors Program has been committed to making incoming honors students feel like a family. To continue the tradition, a UI100 course will be added for incoming freshmen.

The honors program has looked for ways to make it easier for new honors students to be a part of an community

“For the first time, this coming Fall of 2020, we are going to have a UI100 section that is just for honors students and the honors learning community,” Director Jim McGill said. “That’s a new thing that we are going to try that we hope will help some of those first-year beginning honors students get off on the right foot and connect a little more deeply.”

This honors class will be taught in LaFerla Hall, the location of one of the learning communities.

McGill discussed how honors classes are encouraged to be more discussion-driven and student-centered while completing class objectives.

“For the learning community section of that, it’s going to be students who live with each other day in and day out, and now they are in a class interacting academically with each other,” McGil said. “We are hoping that this is going to build stronger connections between those students and having them be sort of like a cohort.

McGill discussed the requirements for how students become a part of this program.

McGill said there are about 1,200 students in the program, most of whom are freshmen. By the time graduation comes around, specifically this May, about 50 students will graduate and complete the program.

McGil said there are certain benefits that come with being in the honors program.

“Sophomore honors students get to enroll with the juniors, and junior honors students get to enroll with the seniors,” McGil said.

Other benefits McGil said students enjoy is having the freedom to go to the honors house on 605 N. Henderson and print for free, or just go to relax and lounge with other friends who are in honors classes.

Besides the academic structure of taking “honors credits” in preparation for graduation, the program is intended to build community and connect honors students together.

McGill explained one of the ways they are pursuing these connections.

“Part of that [helping students build connection] is the honors learning community in LaFerla Hall, the Honors house, as well as the honors classes that allows them to connect with other students and faculty,” McGil said.

McGill said he believes as students get to know each other, supporting each other and having common experiences help create a feeling of belongingness to relieve the pressure and demands of college.

For more information on the Honors Program, call (573) 651-2513.