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Atmosphere of Family' and Friendships helps keep Enrollment in Honors College Growing


JONESBORO – A junior mathematics major, once self-described as a shy, timid freshman, is anything but that when he was asked what he likes the most about being an Honors College student at Arkansas State University.

“I have made so many friendships that I know will be an invaluable network when I leave Arkansas State,” says Camden Harrell, who is now president of the Honors College Association.  “ASU is a place where I know I belong and can work side by side with my fellow students to make my college experience all that it can be.”

He is one of 815 Honors College students this fall, the largest group in the program’s history.  Since 2009, the Honors College enrollment has grown by 43 percent, with 232 new Honors freshmen this year.

With numbers going up for the third consecutive year, there must be several reasons.  The friendships and family atmosphere may be one of the major factors if some students’ opinions are representative of the larger group.

“I feel so fortunate to say that I have made some of my best friends through Honors, while also building leadership skills in the Honors College Association,” said Erin Flagg, a senior English education major from Manila.  “Also, I am so excited to have the opportunity to conduct my own research and develop an Honors senior thesis.”

Earl Morris of Jacksonville, a sophomore chemistry major with pre-pharmacy emphasis, cites the Honors College motto, “Live. Learn. Belong,” which he said captures the college’s purpose exactly because of what he has observed to be a close network of students who share common interests and goals.

“I have found it (Honors College) to be a tremendous resource and have already become very close friends with many Honors students,” he continued.  “I am confident that these relationships will last many years after I graduate from Arkansas State and will benefit me in my future career.”

Many of the close relationships Honors students develop originate with the campus living accommodations, such as the Honors Living-Learning Community (HLLC).

“I like the ‘community of living’ in the HLLC,” said Caraline Vaughn of Jonesboro, a freshman who is still weighing options for her major course of study.  “I am in classes with the people I live with.  I appreciate the integrity of the people I’m surrounded by, and the encouragement I find in a group of students striving to lead and excel.  I like being at such a large and diverse institution, but I love the family I have in the Honors College.”

The popularity of the Honors program and the HLLC have led to student demand for more housing that serves Honors.

The university broke ground in August to begin construction of another Honors LLC facility, which will serve an additional 102 students.  Adjacent to the existing three-building HLLC complex that houses 219, it is scheduled for completion by fall of 2013.  While waiting for the new Honors residence hall to be completed, a large segment of Honors freshmen are living on the third floor of Kays Hall this year.  This intentional community adds to their sense of belonging and has helped connect these students to Honors even though they are not living in the HLLC.

With growing numbers and an academically well-prepared group, the Honors experience is progressing in a number of ways.

“More and more students each year are involved in research opportunities, doing creative work, and are being mentored by the exceptional faculty we have here at ASU,” said Rebecca Oliver, director the Honors College.  “The growth of the Honors College has benefited students in the variety and types of courses and opportunities we can offer while they are enrolled as undergraduates, but it also has long term benefits as these alumni will have a strong network based on a common experience, friendship, and loyalty to Arkansas State.”

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