MARCH 12, 2021 — The Honors College and College of Sciences at UTSA have partnered to develop an integrated program that streamlines the ability for honors-eligible students in the sciences to be both Honors College students and members of their college honors program.
The new College of Sciences and Honors College (COSHON) program brings together academically talented science students through more engaging courses and opportunities for intellectual discussion. With a more than 95% retention rate for the first cohort of the program, this collaboration opens the door for other colleges to successfully collaborate with the Honors College in the future.
The UTSA Honors College is a small, select college that fosters a strong sense of community and success for its high-achieving students, all within the larger framework of a research university. The “dual citizenship” of Honors College students can be confusing when they are also enrolled in the honors program of their respective academic colleges.
To alleviate this confusion, Jill Fleuriet, interim acting dean of the Honors College, Sean Kelly, interim dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, Lydia Bueno, assistant dean of the Honors College, and Alegra Lozano, Honors College counselor, collaborated together with the co-directors of the COS Honors program — Hector Aguilar, distinguished senior lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Terri Matiella, senior lecturer in the Department of Environmental Science — to develop the COSHON program.
“The Honors College curriculum is intentionally interdisciplinary and experiential, while the college honors programs focus on disciplinary depth and application,” Fleuriet explained. “Together, they offer undergraduates the opportunity to maximize their professional and academic preparation with excellent teaching, research activities, service to their communities, and personal development.”
Honors College students are required to complete six experiences within the broad categories of service, professional development, intellectual achievement and research, cultural exploration, engaged living, and skill development. The COSHON program helps students achieve these experiences through activities that will directly benefit their future in the sciences.
The two colleges jointly held an information session for COS and Honors College students, breaking down the program requirements and how they connected to the experiential learning requirements of the Honors College. The Honors College also helped COS host several workshops to inform sciences faculty of the Honors College pedagogy. Additionally, the COSHON program will offer an Academic Inquiry & Scholarship (AIS) course for new cohorts each semester. This course allows students to better understand the requirements of both colleges as well as opportunities available in the College of Sciences.
Students in this combined program who are also first-time college students benefit from specialized sessions with Honors College academic counselors who not only advise on curriculum requirements but also provide important resources and assistance to help them be successful in college.
The program has received positive feedback from students, who feel the emphasis on building a strong community of like-minded individuals will further their educational experience.
“The collaboration between the Honors College and COS Honors Program has been beneficial as I have already been able to not only be engaged in courses that are tailored to me, but also build relationships with professors and students like me along the way,” said freshman student Mason Bourque. “I feel a great sense of camaraderie and family in the Honors College and COS Honors Program because many of us share the same scientific passions and academic aspirations that have led us to connect with one another, despite the circumstances. I am confident that being in both programs will enable me to get the most out of my education.”
Freshman student Finn Burmeister-Morton shares his enthusiasm for being in COSHON, where he can pursue his interests in STEM while gaining the advantages that the Honors College affords.
“Not only have I been able to create a more cohesive degree plan, but I also meet and interact with like-minded, yet still diverse, peers. I couldn't be more happy as a member of the first cohort of this program, and believe that as the program expands, its positive impact on students will grow with it,” Burmeister-Morton said.
With 45 of the 47 students in the initial cohort returning for their second semester this spring, the program demonstrates the success of inter-college collaboration. Aguilar and Matiella are committed to continue advancing the program through student feedback each semester and creating opportunities for students to further connect.
“Overall, the experience has been very positive, and we have been pleased with the collaboration of the Honors administration and academic counselors in creating and launching the COSHON program,” Matiella said.
“We feel this program brings together the best aspects of the College of Sciences and the Honors College for a unique educational experience for these academically talented students,” Aguilar agreed.
With the success of the COSHON program, the Honors College hopes to collaborate with other colleges in the future.
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