An Honors Education at a Cost

Should there be a fee for Honors College Admission?

Elyjah Zamora-Woolsey, Staff Writer

Would you pay a full quarter of tuition to join the Honors College? Some students are saying no. The Honors College allows students to be competitive transfer applicants. However, the program is not covered by regular tuition, and students may decide not to apply because of the fee.

The Honors College at SCC is an opportunity for students to take 13 honors classes and participate in a year-long research track. The classes offered at the Honors College are more rigorous and have smaller class sizes. Some of the courses that students take as Honors courses include Public Speaking, English Composition one and two, Geology of National Parks and more.

CREDIT: Honors College

The Honors College also offers a year-long, 10-credit research track that ends with students presenting their work at the University of Washington (UW) symposium. Students begin the research track in the fall by writing a literature review about a topic they are interested in. During the winter quarter, the student works with a mentor to write a research paper. In the spring, students finish their projects and present them at a symposium at the UW.

In the past, students have produced work like “Joking Not Joking: How Late-Night Humor Impacts Politics” by Cheri Coleman and “Worse than Nothing: Strategic Ballistic Missile Defense and Great Power Deterrence” by Decker Eveleth.

Being a part of the Honors College provides students with opportunities they may not have had otherwise. Michael Overa, the program director for the Honors College, tells a story of a retired veteran who joined the research track in the fall. After presenting his research at the UW, an instructor requested that the student join his department to work with the instructor.

Another benefit of the Honors College is the additional support that Honors students get from staff and each other. Honors classes are available for honors students only, except for one or two hybrid classes.

These classes are also capped at 20 people, so students receive more time with instructors to answer questions and receive help than in other courses. Honors students also have a dedicated study lounge, which they can use to help each other in class, study or even play games.

CREDIT: Honors College

What does it take to get into the Honors College at Shoreline?

Students need a 3.0 GPA to apply, although those with a lower GPA can get a recommendation from a faculty member. Next, students must write an essay outlining their accomplishments and goals. After submitting an application and being approved comes the largest barrier of entry for some, the fee.

The fee to join the Honors College is up to $495 and up to almost $700 for international students every quarter. Veterans and Running Start students do not have to pay the Honors College fee. The cost to join the Honors College for a year is almost as much as a full quarter’s tuition, on top of the tuition that a student already has to pay. For some people, this presents a barrier to entry. But if the program director gets his way, the fee may be removed. “It is definitely a barrier and definitely one that I want to eliminate,” Overa says.

Some students, however, think the fee may be necessary, even as it causes students to avoid the Honors College. Jacob Seamen, an honors student and the treasurer for the Honors College, says that the fee is used to pay the salaries of the honors instructors. “We shouldn’t get rid of the pay… the faculty are getting for monitoring the Honors College because they’re doing a lot more than they would be doing,” Seamen said.

Many students come to a community college to save money on their courses. Some students may be unable to afford the fee or unwilling to take on additional costs. Overa and Seamen agree that the fee is a barrier to entry for some students, and Seamen says that he knows students who were discouraged by the fee and did not apply to the Honors College. Removing the fee could allow students to apply for the Honors College based on their drive to learn rather than their ability to pay.

The Honors College at Shoreline is an excellent opportunity for students to stand out from other applicants when transferring to a four-year university. Students must apply for the Honors College and pay a fee to enter. However, Program Director Michael Overa would like to see that fee go away. For now, it remains a barrier to entry.