You may have heard about Gannon’s Honors Program – you may have even been told you qualify. But what does that mean for you? Does this mean exams more often? Is the workload more than it is for non-honors classes? Are specialized classes offered for each major? Are there extra classes students have to take that they wouldn’t have to if they didn’t join the Honors Program?

The Honors Program is not nearly as scary as it sounds. As a freshman, accepted honors students become acquainted with the program during Gannon University’s summer orientation. Once students have returned in the fall, Honors hosts its own orientation where the program is explained and freshmen have a chance to meet their “Big” – an upperclassman that helps the transition into the program. The first weekend on campus ends with an honors picnic on Presque Isle, complete with a cookout and volleyball game.

The Honors Center, located on the first floor of the Palumbo Academic Center, is available to all Honors students. It is open during the day to visit with Dr. Michael DeSanctis, director of the Honors program, and Cheryl Jong, administrative secretary for the program.

“This is an opportunity to be with bright minds,” Jong said, “to be in a discussion-based environment where your professors get to know you one-on-one and you get to bond with other students in the program who also would take each other under wing.”

Have a few minutes to kill between classes? The center has armchairs and sofas that are great for studying, socializing or sleeping. There are also computers and printers available for students in the Honors Center.

To remain active in the program, all students must attend five events each year. The Honors Program offers similar activities to the cookout all year long for students to get to know each other and earn their event credits. Holiday parties are hosted in the Honors Center. Other activities include getting groups of honors students to attend movies, laser tag, comedians and service opportunities.

The Honors Program holds meetings once a month. You can attend either Tuesday or Thursday morning, whichever works best in your schedule. Meetings are typically brief; the student chair of the program announces the upcoming events and committees give reports. After the business is taken care of, the program provides free pizza and soft drinks for lunch. This is always a nice perk to supplement the ever-dwindling number of meal plans, especially by the end of the semester.

Honors classes aren’t necessarily the same as they are in high school – they aren’t “mainstream” classes with extra homework – they are actually structured quite differently. Most Honors classes have fewer than 15 students, which allows for discussion-based courses. They feature student-led presentations and debates instead of frequent quizzes and exams.

“I love that professors treat me like an adult in Honors classes,” said Sara Hopson, senior English major and honors student. “There’s a certain type of trust in the relationship between an Honors faculty member and a group of Honors students. That trust brings with it more responsibility, and since I feel like my participation and maturity is expected, I bring more enthusiasm and seriousness to the course in return.”

The Honors Program offers core liberal arts classes that most majors require for graduation. Typical classes include theology, philosophy, history and English. The courses available changes each semester based on the needs of the students. Recently, the program added calculus and physics after student recommendation. Besides these classes, all freshmen in the Program are required to take a one-credit seminar during their first semester.

The Honors Program isn’t necessarily more work; it’s different work. Check them out here for more information about the Honors Program.

You may also like Chelsey Klube’s article on Phi Eta Sigma, the freshman academic honors society.