By Jay Pham
Reserved Honors student parking, competitive edge for scholarships, leadership development and career planning skills; these are a few of the many perks for the new and improved Pensacola State College Robinson Honors Program reinstituted for fall 2017.
The Robinson Honors program “gives you an advantage either when you are applying for a job or a scholarship [to] further your academic career,” Program Director, Amber Carey, said.
“I’ve been on scholarship committees,” Carey said. “I have a lot of students with high GPAs, so what I’m looking at after that is how are they involved. What are they going to contribute to our university and our college? Students who are involved in the campus and community are more successful students. We’ve seen the statistics on that.”
Before the program was deactivated several years ago, Robinson Scholars had the opportunity to travel to places such as Cambridge where they took courses and received credit and Costa Rica where they had the opportunity to learn about the cloud forests. The new honors program will have these same activities along with travel scholarships.
To be eligible, current students need to complete 12 college credit hours and have a 3.5 GPA. New college students need to match one criteria to join, such as high school GPA or PERT or ACT test scores.
There are four requirements for students to graduate with an honors degree:
First, a student must complete at least four Honors courses. Honors courses are extensions of GEN-ED courses, of which students can pick whichever classes they prefer. The honors portion comes at no extra charge to the student. “We try to pick GEN-ED courses that were the most popular that most students would have to take,” Carey said.
Second, a student must complete the honors college forum. The college forum, IDH 1022, is a one credit college course taught by Carey. Unlike the online Honors courses, the college forum gives Robinson Scholars a chance to meet and learn face-to-face.
“College forum is about meeting Robinson Scholars and building leadership skills,” Carey said. Developing these skills will include working on research projects, public speaking and developing a leadership philosophy.
The third requirement is maintaining 20 points of extracurricular activities each academic year. Each activity, depending on the level of difficulty, will have different amounts of points. For instance, if you attend an Honors presentation, you receive two points for that year. On the other hand, giving an honors presentation will grant you six points.
The final requirement is an honors presentation. Rather than creating from scratch, the honors presentation is a summary of an honors project scholars completed from the course. “Students will have an Honors Day at the end of the semester. You can choose your favorite project, your baby project, what you did in your different classes that you’re proud of,” Carey said.
Taylor Smith, a General Studies major, was invited to the program this semester. Smith is turning 19 in December. She’s the Co-chair and Communications Director of the social activist group Florida People’s Network, founder and President of the Santa Rosa County Young Democrats and precinct Committee woman of the Santa Rosa County Democratic Executive Committee (DEC).
“It will be a challenge; time management will be key,” Smith said. “I will have to delegate some responsibilities in all three of the groups that I currently serve as chair or president. My education is my priority. I want my grades to be up to par.”
Students must maintain the requirements needed to stay in the program or risk probation and possible termination. Students can always re-apply when they feel ready, and their honors program record will still be maintained.