Valdosta Daily Times

October 26, 2013

VSU program celebrates honor students

Kristin Finney
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — In high school, advanced-placement classes and gifted programs differentiate most honors students from their peers. In college, honors students can sometimes fall by the wayside or not feel recognized or fulfilled.

For honors students at Valdosta State University, this is not the case.

In fall 2011, VSU began the Honors College, an extension and continuation of its honors program, which allows honors students a chance to receive a heightened academic experience and collaborate with students and faculty.

The VSU Honors College tries offering students an experience different from the average college class. VSU Honors College students are able to take smaller and more diverse classes. With an average of 17 students per class, professors are able to do more one-on-one work with their students and have more open discussions.

“Basically, we want smaller class sizes that are more seminar oriented. We strive for a dialogue with students. Honors is about a different mode of delivery. Instead of it being ‘Here’s the material. Read this. You’ll have a test here and I am going to lecture on these days.’ We try to do different things. Sometimes it will be project oriented, sometimes we will sit down with a problem, look at it and strategize how to fix it,” said Mike Savoie, interim dean of the Honors College.  

Students at the Honors College are encouraged to give back to their community. Some students will work with organizations such as the United Way or Habitat for Humanity, other students will organize fundraisers and symposiums to educate other students on causes and help raise money for organizations.

Savoie said of the community work, “We do what we can to support and help the organizations, but our students also learn from them. They will figure out ways to connect and how the business side works and that enhances their learning. Giving back is very reciprocal. It’s much bigger than all of us. If we all did that and continued to do that we would really have a much better society.”

Offering a heightened academic experience while still giving back to the community would be more than enough to convince most people that the Honors College is a great program, but it doesn’t stop there. With just over 400 students in the Honors College, it can

offer a much more personal and family-like college experience. Housed in one building, the honors students are able to talk directly with Savoie and the other teachers almost every day, giving the College a welcoming and homelike atmosphere.

“The Honors College allows me more freedom outside the traditional college classroom. The Honors College focuses on the student as an individual and is tailored to our individual needs. I love being apart of this family, because that’s what we are — a family — because of the relationships I’ve developed with the students, staff and professors. Relationships that will stay with me past my graduation. Relationships that I couldn’t make unless I was a part of the Honors College,” said Jennifer Dandron, student assistant at the VSU Honors College.

“Doing this position, I have an arts background so I felt a little uncomfortable getting into honors because I never knew much about it and I thought I wasn’t smart enough to do that. But this really isn’t just about your IQ, it’s about your willingness to try new things and be creative in your academic pursuits. One thing I have learned about higher education, and one part I love about my job, is that you get to continue to learn and explore. I love the position. I love the students. I love what we are trying to do here,” said Savoie.

Students interested in joining the Honors College must meet the admission requirements. The admission requirements include a minimum core high school GPA or transfer/current VSU student cumulative GPA of 3.2 and a combined SAT score of 1130 (math/verbal) or ACT composite score of 25. Applicants must also complete an online or paper application and write a 300-500 word essay describing how a significant education experience in their past has contributed to their interest in the Honors College.

Students interested in applying for the Honors College can find applications online at www.valdosta.edu/honors or stop by the Honors College house at the corner of Georgia Avenue and Oak Street.

More information on the Honors College, please visit the website, call (229) 249-4894; or email honors@valdosta.edu