Lebanon Valley College launched a new Honors Program this semester that intends to provide a blend of both specific honors academic classes and opportunities for growth outside of the classroom for students.

The honors courses are part of LVC’s Constellation general education curriculum and involve hands-on, immersive, interdisciplinary learning.

“We wanted to create a program that would develop a real community for high-performing students—one focused on engagement and exploration, and one open to students from all majors,” Dr. Laura Eldred, Director of Honors, said in an email to LebTown.

The honors cohort lives together in the dorm and enjoys social activities together, in addition to shared courses.

“LVC used to have a honors program that was very traditionally focused, so we saw an opportunity to reboot the program with a different approach,” said Eldred, adding that the current conception of an honors program incorporates more community engagement, leadership, and service components.

A group of honors program students participating in a paint night together. (Provided photo)

Selected students for the honors program will receive an annual $1,000 scholarship toward tuition, access to honors courses, a choice of residence hall placement, an honors graduation ceremony and a career partnership with the Breen Center for Graduate Success.

The program requires 18 honors course units to graduate from LVC with Honors. 95% of the units are completed in specially designed sections of general education courses for honors program students. The classes revolve around discussing how to help solve current, significant challenges society is facing. The students will be guided along the way by first-year mentors and professors.

Commitment to the program for the 2021–22 academic year includes:

  • Residential students living with other honors program students in first-year housing.
  • Commuter students participating in honors program activities on campus as well as outside classes bonding.
  • Participating in campus activities with other honors program students.
  • Taking the Honors First-Year Experience courses.
  • Taking a 1-credit Immersive class that introduces local community service opportunities.
  • Maintaining a GPA of 3.1 for sophomores, 3.2 for juniors and 3.3 for graduation.

“We are rolling the program forward as the current cohort moves through. That means that right now we only offer first-year courses, and next year we will also offer courses for students in their second year,” Eldred said. “We could not, for example, add a sophomore at this point, because we do not currently have sophomore-level Honors courses available yet.”

Two students who are currently engaging in the program share their experiences thus far.

“The honors program was an opportunity I was very thrilled to learn about,” Kaylee Haws, an LVC Honors first-year student, said. “It is wonderful how there is an excellent representation of a lot of the majors at Lebanon Valley College. Hearing how passionate everyone is about their majors and how excited they are to get involved on campus was wonderful. It made me even more excited to be at college. Being able to be surrounded around like-minded people has made the transition, thus far, from high school to college smooth and something I am looking forward to continuing to experience.” 

“The honors program shifted my views on a college experience,” Juliana Rodriguez, an LVC honors first-year student, said. “I have always put education first; my second commitment was service. This program is exactly that. When the honors college was brought to my attention I knew it was a community I wanted to be a part of. I always imagined college to be parties and stress, but this program and the students and faculty involved, inspire me to be the best example for the college that I can be.”

To apply for the program, students must have a minimum high school GPA of 3.5 and be in the top 20% of their high school class. Other characteristics such as leadership, interdisciplinary interests, and community service are also looked for during the selection process.

“Our admissions process is holistic. We are definitely looking for more than a strong GPA. We are seeking students with broad interests in more than one discipline or field, and students who have a history of taking their learning beyond the classroom in service and/or leadership experiences,” Eldred said. “We’re particularly excited by students who have taken risks, gotten engaged in their communities, and worked to make the world better. Our current students have a real range of backgrounds and a wealth of community experiences, and that diversity has been a source of strength and pride for the students and for the College.”

The honors program has a limited number of spots available and those who are interested are asked to apply by the deadline of December 15. After the deadline, additional applications will be considered if any spaces are open. If a student is selected, they will move onto an interview with a representative of the Faculty Honors Committee. If honors placement is approved after the interview, the student must enroll at LVC and then further commit to the honors program. Students can decide to withdraw from the honors program at any time. 

All who are interested in applying to be a LVC Honors student for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year should complete the application here.

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