Educational strides for ‘smart cookies’

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By Amanda Castro-Crist



Amarillo College offers a variety of resources to help students get ahead, both while enrolled and after they graduate. One resource many students find themselves taking advantage of is an honors class.

The honors program has two options: students can apply for admission into Presidential Scholars and complete a a core curriculum, or they can self-enroll in single honors classes. Honors classes are offered in subjects such as biology, government, math and speech.

A student can enroll in the classes with a grade point average of at least 3.0 (90 percent for graduating high school seniors), and after completing the course, will receive an honors designation on his or her transcript.

“I’d taken speech before they offered the honors program, and I was not satisfied with my grade,” said Mary Phongphraphan, a biology major.

Though this is her last semester at AC, when she found out speech was being offered as an honors class and taught by Jill Gibson, an assistant professor of speech and mass communication and honors program coordinator, Phongphraphan said she decided to retake the class.

“She’s a great teacher,” Phongphraphan said of Gibson. “It’s a different learning experience.”

Ottis Scrivner, a chemistry major, agreed with Phongphraphan.

“No one got in honors speech class accidentally; everyone takes it seriously,” Scrivner said.

Morale stays high in the class, Scrivner said, because of two things: Gibson expects everyone to care about the class material and behave, and the students already know that is expected of them.

Not all the students enrolled in the classes see a significant variance in their learning experience. Jonah Gray, a liberal arts major, said he hasn’t noticed much of a difference in the honors speech class and his other classes.

Then again, he said, his other classes do not yet include core subjects but consist mainly of fine arts and physical education classes.

Gray, a first-year student, said he took the class on the advice of his academic adviser, Brenda Walsh, who he said told him honors classes look better on a transcript. He said he’s unsure whether he’ll take more honors classes after this semester.

“It depends on if I change my major,” he said.

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