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Academic Excellence

by Dr. Donna Singleton

The Honors Program and Honor Society offer different values to students who wants to maximize their education.

Students are sometimes puzzled when they hear about RACC’s Honors Program and RACC’s Honor Society. Because both entities offer “competitive edge” opportunities for RACC students, they need to differentiate between the two—and take advantage of both. Although many students are involved in both the Honors Program and Phi Theta Kappa, these are two completely separate items.

The Honors Program offers an enriched experience through credit courses taken at RACC and special events while the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society offers membership in an organization at the local, regional, and international level, but is separate from their academic coursework—except that excellent academic standing is required.

Honors Program

The primary goal of the Reading Area Community College Honors Program is to enrich the educational experience of academically talented, intellectually curious students through specialized courses and other learning opportunities. A variety of Honors courses are available; some are Honors versions of general education courses while others are devoted to special topics.

New students can take Honors courses by appropriate placement test scores, by ranking in high school graduation, or by SAT scores. Current students are eligible if they have a 3.25 GPA with at least eight college-level credits or by special recommendation for a particular course. Students do not need to be invited to take Honors courses. They just need to register for a course and complete an application form.

Honors courses offer interaction with other academically motivated students in a small class setting. Students have the opportunity to explore subjects in more depth. In addition to the Honors classes, students may work with a faculty member in a regular course to propose a contract for Honors credit. Honors Independent study is another option. Also, three scholarships are available to Honors students. Students who earn 15 credits of Honors course work receive recognition in the form of an Honors Certificate and an Honors diploma.

Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society

The primary purpose of Phi Theta Kappa is to recognize academic achievement. All students who achieve a 3.6 overall GPA with at least 12 credits earned at RACC are invited to join. Membership is considered a recognized résumé item. In addition to recognition of outstanding work, Phi Theta Kappa International works on behalf of students to encourage four-year colleges to offer some $37 million in transfer scholarships. Locally, Albright and Alvernia offer scholarships just for being a member. Several competitive scholarships are available to members. For example, three RACC students have won the Leaders of Promise scholarship of $1,000. Several members have won two years tuition to Kutztown University through the ALL-USA and ALL-PA Academic Team competitions. Two RACC students have been named the top ALL-PA person in the state, and one RACC student was recognized as one of only twenty in the nation to be named ALL-USA Academic Team Member with a $5,000 scholarship. Members have had the opportunity to travel out of state to Phi Theta Kappa conventions and institutes. The local chapter, named Alpha Sigma Rho, operates as a club on campus, with activities that promote scholarship, leadership, service, and fellowship.

Dual Value

Understanding these two views of “honors” can be valuable to RACC students who want to make the best use of their time at RACC before transferring or moving on to new work experiences. Students who want to challenge themselves and reap the many benefits of both “honors” should learn more about these two ways to maximize their college experience. For more information about the Honors Program or about Phi Theta Kappa, students may contact Dr. Singleton at dsingleton@racc.edu.

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