Largest Honors College Class Finds Home Away From Home
Kent State University’s Honors College is a Living-Learning Community where first-year students like Michael Trauman have discovered a home away from home, and a place where they can pursue their dreams.
Mr. Trauman is among the hundreds of students who comprise the largest Honors College freshman class ever. Freshman enrollment in 2017 grew by 14 percent over that of 2016, according to Alison Smith, the new dean of Kent State's Honors College.
This academic year, Honors College boasts record enrollment of nearly 1,500.
“For the last few years, Honors College has been growing rather rapidly,” Dean Smith said.
Mr. Trauman, from Pittsburgh, said Honors College gives him the challenges that he needs, while living and studying in a community with his peers.
Besides, Mr. Trauman said, attending school at Kent State was more affordable than attending a university in Pennsylvania.
“I was absolutely attracted to the Honors College,” said Mr. Trauman, who would be a freshman this year, but instead is a sophomore, thanks to the AP and college courses he took in high school. “The classes are smaller. Stopher Hall is beautiful and comfortable and I’ve met a lot of friends there. I’ve met people with a lot of different insights. And my advisor is very well informed and passes on the knowledge of all of the opportunities that are available to me.”
Honors College is located at Stopher and Johnson Halls, which is home to about 430 mostly freshman and sophomores. The remaining Honors College students are distributed throughout the campus.
Dean Smith attributed the rapid growth of Honors College to a multi-faceted effort, that includes recruitment and marketing, as well as just “getting the word out.”
She also said that the “Freshman in Florence” program, in which select students spend their first semester in Florence, Italy, is an attractive draw. The program, in its second year, allows students to expand their academic options, increase their understanding of global issues and improve their foreign language skills.
The advising component of the Honors College is another feature that makes it unique.
“The advising is the heart and soul of Honors College,” Dean Smith said. “It’s described as holistic and transformative. It’s not only about staying on track, but reaching goals.”
Maria Colvis, a second year junior, agrees.
Ms. Colvis enjoys Honors College because it offers a sense of community, proximity to students who are similarly working on their careers and amenities, such as free copies on site.
But Ms. Colvis is especially impressed with the high caliber of the advising program, which has helped her accelerate her Biology/ Pre-Med coursework, so that she can graduate in three years instead of four.
“The advising is incredible,” said Ms. Colvis, who is now looking at medical schools. “They really care about what you’re doing and want to help you reach your potential.”
Evan Medfisch, a sophomore from Pittsburgh, said he lived in Eastway last year, but a move to Honors College has given him easier access to the excellent advising staff, and the library and computer lab, and quieter study areas.
Mr. Medfisch said he even had the opportunity to be a Welcome Leader in August to help freshman feel at home.
“We helped the freshman move in and we did teambuilding stuff at the rec center,” Mr. Medfisch said. “And we had a picnic. We are working to make it more social.”
Ms. Colvis and Mr. Trauman plan to write senior honors theses, which will prepare them for graduate or professional level work.
“These opportunities are really rich,” Dean Smith said. “This university is full of expertise in so many subjects. It allows the students to do research and opens doors for them when they go to graduate school or in their careers.”
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Photo Caption: Michael Trauman is among the hundreds of students who comprise Kent State's largest Honors College freshman class.