DR. JASON HILTON TAKES OVER AS HONORS COLLEGE DIRECTORHilton implemented a new system that has gained positive feedback.
Posted by WSRU-TV News on Saturday, November 2, 2019
The SRU Honors College has a new system this year that will allow more students to participate in the program. This is all thanks to the new Honors College Director, Dr. Jason Hilton.
Hilton took over as director in May, when the previous director, Dr. George Brown, retired.
“I have come in and updated the Honors program,” Hilton said. “I made a model that is more flexible so that we can meet the needs of more students and become more inclusive on campus.”
Hilton said that previously the program was based largely on having Honor students do a certain number of classes and if they couldn’t get those, they would fill the class slots with other experiences.
“What I have implemented this year is an Honors program in which students do classes and also co-curricular experiences such as getting involved in student organizations, getting involved in events on campus and in the community, service learning, and study abroad trips,” Hilton said.
He said this allows students to craft their own journey through the Honors College. He said that students are picking courses and experiences that match up with their interests. This new model, according to Hilton, is bringing in a lot more Fine and Performing Arts majors who have a lot of one and two credit ensembles. He said that student-athletes are also benefiting from this new program because they are already really active on campus and previously had a hard time getting into Honors classes.
“We are bringing in a lot of students who could not previously participate in our program,” Hilton said. “Being very engaged on our campus counts for Honors credit now.”
He said that one of his favorite benefits is how open the new system is for transfer students.
“Many times, students need to make a socioeconomic decision about paying for college, so they will go to community college for a couple of years and previously those students were not able to participate in the Honors College because they would never get into the honors courses,” Hilton said.
He said that when transfer students come here, they count their experiences from community college and get them involved here on SRU’s campus.
“I love that we are really meeting the needs of students who come from less advantaged backgrounds,” he said.
Hilton said this new system is receiving positive feedback from students. He said many students came to him thinking they could not complete the Honors Program that was in effect previously and many seniors would drop out of the program because they could not finish it.
“Now we have students who think they’ll have to leave, but I sit down with them and convert them to the new system and not only have they completed the system, but they are now ahead because of all the experiences they were in,” Hilton said.
He said the new system has outcomes in it where students link courses and experiences, which really gives them something to talk about when they apply for graduate school and jobs.
“Being able to say they have worked on particular qualities and skills will set them apart from other candidates, rather than just saying that they took a certain class,” Hilton said.
The current program has 530 Honors students. Hilton said they admitted their largest Freshman class and have a lot of students who have already been here wanting to join. He said they also removed some students who were not as active as they needed to be because there are some semester to semester requirements. He said that overall the number of students has remained steady.
Hilton said that each experience and class is worth a certain amount of Honors Option Points (HOPS). He said courses are worth four hops and experiences can range from one to four points and students are aiming for a certain number of points overall. 3+ students must earn 24 HOPS, whereas traditional 4-year students need 32 HOPS.
“Students have to allocate points to different areas to ensure they are getting different outcomes,” Hilton said.
Hilton said he also instituted a High Honors program so students can dig deeper into the program to get more points. Those students receive special recognition during graduation.