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Honors Residential College offers community and helps students succeed

Honors Residential College offers community and helps students succeed

A series showing how living-learning communities support student success

AUGUST 16, 2023 — Finding your village and the people you are going to lean on is an important part for many students who are starting their college journey.

Students in the UTSA Honors College already have a built-in village and a support system. It is the only college at UTSA that requires its first-year students to live on campus together, and offers a housing scholarship of up to $1,500 to each student.

Over the last school year, first-time-in-college students (FTICs) had the opportunity to live together in the new Honors Residential College (HRC), located in Guadalupe Hall. This fall, the Honors College welcomes just over 590 new students, including roughly 375 FTICs. Of the FTICs, 311 will be living in Guadalupe Hall.

“The HRC provides a dedicated place for students who want to excel in all that they do, have fun and support each other.”

A pair of students pose for a photo while moving into Guadalupe Hall as part of the UTSA Honors Residential College on Monday, August 14.

“The first year of required residence for all incoming Honors College students went really well,” said Lydia Bueno, assistant dean of strategic enrollment and student life for the UTSA Honors College. “Our students enjoyed the community, the shared spaces for socializing and all the events coordinated and hosted by the Honors College in Guadalupe Hall. This has been a great collaboration between Housing and Residence Life and the UTSA Honors College.”

In addition to the 590 FTICs, there are also more than 50 transfer students and about 160 current UTSA students who have entered the college. All told more than 2,000 students are enrolled in the college—the highest enrollment figure the Honors College has seen since its founding in 2002.

Prior to the development of the residential college, UTSA leadership researched, reviewed data and surveyed current and new students before modeling the program after elite, small colleges and peer-model honors colleges.

“Living on campus with roommates helps foster a sense of social and academic belonging; both of which are pillars of student success established by the UT System,” Bueno said. “Research shows that students with roommates have an overall less stressful, more positive experience leading to better academic performance during their first year.”

Bueno adds that when students have roommates it helps strengthen several skills such as strong communication, time management, conflict resolution, adaptability and empathy.

“It also helps prevent students from isolation and loneliness, which can lead to depression or lack of motivation,” she said.

To help build community amongst the students, the HRC hosts professional development workshops and social events such as game nights, destressing sessions featuring therapy animals, arts and crafts and other activities that promote community. There are opportunities for tutoring and development opportunities outside the classroom, including internships, research and study abroad programs. Students also have the benefit of being in smaller classes.

“Living in this community helped me interact with people that I wouldn't have gotten to know if I didn't live there,” said Mitchell Foster, a sophomore majoring in environmental science. “Living there also made it extremely easy to see my friends and hang out, get food, have late night study sessions, or even ask for help with homework.”

Several of the students are also in other programs that serve as on-ramps to the UTSA Honors College. Out of the 315 students living in the HRC, 104 are involved in Terry Scholars, Top Scholars, Bold Scholars, College of Sciences Honors Cohort, APPEX (Academic Personal and Professional Experience) or ESTEEMED

The HRC serves as a “safe space for studying and talking about ideas and learning,” said Jill Fleuriet, vice provost for honors education at UTSA.

“The HRC provides a dedicated place for students who want to excel in all that they do, have fun and support each other,” Fleuriet added. “Peer-to-peer support and role modeling happen every day in the HRC. This includes informal interactions between roommates, hall mates, friends and fellow students, and it also includes specific programming for student support with residential assistants (RAs), many of whom are honors students themselves. The support, living with students equally committed to learning and doing, and the friendships all contribute to academic success.”

Current UTSA students are eligible to join the college if they have completed between 12 and 45 credit hours and earned a 3.5+ GPA. 

Valerie Bustamante Johnson

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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