WCC Creates Honors College for Top-Performing High School Graduates

An honors college for 18 top-ranking high school graduates will be launched at WCC in Fall 2017, says Mira Sakrajda, WCC Honors Co-Director and English Professor. The program is financed by the Westchester Community College Foundation through a gift from Wally and Betsy Stern.

According to WCC’s website, the honors college will be “open only to cohorts of 18 top-performing high-school graduates admitted in February for a full two-year program of study starting the following September.” To be admitted, students must also have a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher, reach competitive WCC placement test scores, and have a strong record of achievement.

At the moment, the program is limited to Liberal Arts-Humanities and Liberal Arts-Social Science, but is expected to be available in Business, Cybersecurity and Engineering soon.

“As part of their overall curriculum requirements, students must take eight Honors courses specifically designed for their major,” says sunywcc.edu, “… [a] 3.5 GPA is required for graduation with the Honors-Designated Degree.”

In addition to full tuition coverage and textbook stipends, complimentary laptops are offered to all 18 students in each cohort. The program is intended to create an academically challenging environment to prepare students for a transfer to a four-year-school to complete two additional years in the pursuit of their bachelor’s degree.

“This 2+2 concept is at the forefront of national trends in higher education,” states the WCC Admissions Newsletter, “and we hope to establish a model to be emulated country-wide.”

“The honors college will significantly enhance the profile of WCC in the county,” Sakrajda said, “It will also be of practical benefit to WCC by attracting high-performing students, by strengthening the ties we have with local high schools, as well as four-year colleges, and by contributing to the degree completion rates.”

According to Sakrajda, every human being deserves an opportunity to fulfill their potential.

“The main purpose of the honors college is to create an environment where exceptionally smart, inquisitive, motivated high-school graduates of all cultural and economic backgrounds have the chance to engage in advanced intellectual inquiry and enjoy and enriching scholarly experience,” Sakrajda said.

“I think the honors college experience will be life-changing to students. They will take enhanced honors-level courses taught by some of the most inspiring WCC professors, and as a small cohort, they will receive the amount of individual support seldom available to the general student population,” Sakrajda said. ”They will be mentored to participate in scholarly conferences, symposia, internships and study abroad programs, submit their work for publication and engage in meaningful applied learning activities.”

In addition, Sakrajda says students in this program will be provided with opportunities to develop their leadership skills and actively serve the college and the community. She also mentions how “the high-quality honors-designated associate’s degree they will earn [at WCC] will greatly improve their chances of transfer to competitive four-year schools.”

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