Honors college matches incoming enrollment record

by | Sep 1, 2017

More and more students are seeking the small class sizes offered by UMSL's Pierre Laclede Honors College.

UMSL students pause after Paint-A-Palooza on Aug. 24. The event was hosted by the Pierre Laclede Honors College Student Association and is a favorite activity for many students. (Photo by August Jennewein)

As the fall semester begins, the introductory courses in the Pierre Laclede Honors College look a little larger.

The incoming class of 189 University of Missouri–St. Louis students ties the largest enrollment numbers in honors history. A portion of this surge is a result of a 92 percent increase in students hailing from Illinois.

Interim Dean Dan Gerth said the focus on increased enrollment was a collaborative effort between honors staff and university admissions leaders.

“Holly Pope, our current admissions representative, and Jen Richardson, our previous representative, both did a tremendous job in locating prospects and increasing applications to the college,” Gerth said. “I’d also be remiss if I did not offer kudos to Drew Griffin’s admissions staff who worked extremely hard to get a big increase in applications.  The campus, under Beth Eckelkamp’s lead, also instituted a substantial increase in direct contact from faculty members to prospective majors.”

On average, the new Tritons have an ACT score of 27, high school class rank of 85th percentile and a 3.6 GPA for both high school and transfer students. To help maintain these high marks at UMSL, students receive specialized attention from faculty members.

“The small class size and the fact that faculty are also advisers, capstone mentors and applicant interviewers allows for really close relationships between faculty and students,” Gerth said. “The students often live together in Oak Hall or Villa North, where we’ve got Living Learning Communities that also foster these relationships.”

Honors Orientation

Interim Dean Dan Gerth (standing at right) welcomes incoming Pierre Laclede Honors College students during orientation on Aug. 18. (Photo courtesy of the honors college)

Civil engineering major Malik Taylor-Allen is eager to develop rapport with his professors and said it was one of the key reasons why he applied to the honors college.

“I wanted to go somewhere I can form actual relationships with my teachers in case there does come a time when I’m having trouble with my assignments,” he said. “I’m the kind of person who will need a teacher’s help to realize that maybe I’m not doing so well. I usually try to do things on my own and it doesn’t always turn out the way I want, so I think having that interaction will help me.”

While the honors college has no academic departments and grants no degrees, it does offer a certificate program with engaging curriculum that appeals to students in all interest areas.

“What mainly attracted me was the focus on writing,” transfer student Kalien Boykin said. “I like to write even though my major is accounting. I’m looking forward to the intimate classes and the family environment. This seems to me like a very homey kind of place, and I’m very comfortable here. It’s an at-ease place where you can relax, take your classes and focus.”

In addition to faculty interaction, students also have ample opportunities to collaborate with one another.

“Honors courses help students develop many key competencies,” Gerth said. “Our classrooms are set up like board rooms or conference rooms, not traditional classrooms, and our discussion-based curriculum and writing-intensive curriculum build communication skills that are relevant for all future pursuits.”

Tayler Patterson, a double major in media studies and economics, is also looking forward to the accountability a rigorous course load provides.

“Having something that pushes you will help you all around,” he said. “I procrastinated a lot in high school, and I don’t want to do that in college. I wanted something that would keep me on track.”

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