Whetstone/Colleen Witowski

By Melissa Boyd (Whetstone Staff Writer)

The Honors Program has tripled in new student involvement this year, from 9 new students in 2010, to 27 in 2011.

“We had discussions, screening [of applications],” said Dr. Jeffrey Gibson, who heads the program. “During orientation, we sat down and told them of the program and solicited their applications [to the school].”

Mary Alice Ozechoski, dean of students, and Laura Schron, admission’s counselor and Honors liaison, also aided in recruitment.

Requirements for the program include four interdisciplinary seminars, and upper level classes require a 2-part research paper and thesis. Incoming freshman who join the program must have had at least a high school GPA of 3.3 and an SAT of 1400. Current students need a 3.0 GPA. Essays and letters of recommendation for freshman or current students are also taken into consideration.

“The misconception is that students can’t join once they’re here, but they actually can,” Gibson said. “We have at least two new [additions] that are current students.”

Dr. Jeffrey Gibson

Whetstone/Cochise Lucas
Dr. Jeffrey Gibson

Recruitment involved talking to dozens of students, Gibson said. The program accepted 27, and 24 entered the program.

“There were a couple who were accepted into the program, also, that didn’t come to Wesley,” Gibson said.

Gibson said there were retention problems with the program, too.

“Plenty of students are interested and capable of the program,” he said. “Now we need to keep them.”

Gibson is pleased with the increase in students joining the program.

“It’s an enriching opportunity for them, as it is for the college,” he said. “We hope that the increase is a signal of the increase in quality and academic proficiency of the students in general at the college.”

Schron said the number of students enrolled in the Honor’s Program has doubled.

“It’s the largest amount in Wesley History up to date,” Schron said.

Previously, Wesley recruited potential Honors Program students by screening applications with a 3.5 GPA and an SAT score of 1700.

“Just because you’re not Harvard material on the SATs doesn’t mean you’re not qualified for an Honors curriculum,” Schron said. “I feel as though that kind of screening definitely helped increase the numbers for the Honors classes as well.”

Last year, 14 Honors Program students also received scholarships at Founder’s Day, solely for being involved in the program. Schron said she thinks this helped a lot, also.

Melissa Savin, a sophomore who joined the program last year, said she is happy she joined the program last year.

“The courses within it [the program] are very interesting,” she said. “They allow us to think about things in a different way and consider what we believe in and why.”

Savin also said she is glad the Honors Program is expanding.

“Screening for new people is a good idea,” Savin said. “Hopefully this will help to add to the group since it’s so small.”

Savin said the experience as a whole has been enriching.

“More students should be given this opportunity,” she said.