Honors FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Honors

What is an "Honors Student"?
For some students and their professors, traditional classroom experiences, interactions and grading systems are simply not enough. Stepping up to Honors means searching out one's own limits and finding new ways to cope with challenges and to extend one's "comfort zone." Honors students are as diverse as any average group of college students in every way possible - culture, economic status, political affiliation, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and age - but, they share the many qualities. Honors students are inquisitive and goal-oriented, enthusiastic and supportive, skeptical and questioning, and eager to discover their potential. Above all, Honors students seek challenges and consistently strive to achieve excellence!

If you are that above-average, self-directed student, or feel that you have the potential to be, the Honors Program offers you the opportunity to put your abilities to the test and achieve at a higher level than you ever before imagined. Still not sure? Remember that every journey worth taking begins with a willingness to succeed, and a single step in the right direction. Believe in yourself! Honors students are people just like you!

What is an "Honors Coordinator"?
Honors Coordinators are members of the college faculty who share a special dedication to maintaining the quality, rigor, excitement, challenge and benefits of the Honors Program. Honors Coordinators manage all of the administrative details of the Honors Program, including screening and approving future honors courses and core students, coordinating all honors program scheduling, promotion and special activities, maintaining contact with, and an updated database of, current and former honors students, facilitating the development and growth of Honors Contracts, as well as developing new program benefits such as the San Diego Scholarship Foundation Honors Book Award Scholarships. In spite of the breadth of their responsibilities, above all, Honors Coordinators always place students first. Your campus coordinator is accessible and available to answer questions about the program, to give guidance and support, or to simply talk to you about your future goals. Honors Coordinators, as well as their administrative assistants, are the often unsung heroes of the Honors Program. Get to know them, not only to benefit from their valuable experience and assistance, but because they really care about your success!

What is an "Honors Professor"?
Honors professors are a wonderfully diverse group of some of the finest instructors in their field who value scholarship, invite collaboration, cultivate creativity and perseverance, appreciate spontaneity and excellence, and, above all, delight in teaching. The majority of honors professors have worked with and contributed to the success of the program for many years. However, because of the "Honors Proposal" process, which invites professors in any discipline to design and teach an honors course in their field, each semester brings new faces, styles and experiences into the honors mix. As is true with honors coordinators, honors professors are dedicated to inspiring their students to reach for the stars to become the finest educated people they can be.

What is an "Honors Counselor"?
Honors counselors are key members of the campus "honors team." City, Mesa and Miramar College each have a designated honors counselor on staff whose job it is to assist honors students with a variety of tasks including creating an Education Plan to guide them through their community college general education studies, selecting all of the necessary course work to facilitate transfer to their first-choice four-year institution, and to complete an A.A. degree if so desired. Honors Counselors are also the best on-campus resource for information about transfer requirements, transfer institutions, transfer seminars and campus visits by college and university recruiters. The Honors Program strongly encourages students to meet with their designated Honors counselor as soon as possible after entering the Program to establish that important connection and begin a dialogue about their future interests and goals. It is equally important to keep your Honors Counselor apprised of any changes in your desired transfer institution or major since this could require significant alterations to your Education Plan and transfer time line.

Are honors classes harder or more competitive?
Most students describe Honors course work as more challenging and exciting, and more stimulating and thought-provoking than other classes. Honors classes emphasize student involvement, participation and performance. Honors students are encouraged to think analytically and creatively and are taught to communicate their thoughts effectively. Group projects are a component of nearly all Honors classes. In this setting, students pool their skills and benefit from each other's strengths rather than compete against each other. As with any non-honors class, honors expectations and assignments are relayed to students well in advance of their due date. Although students will certainly find their honors course work challenging, those who enter the program with strong, well-organized study skills will find that they have very little trouble handling their honors workload.

What makes honors classes different from non-honors classes?
Honors courses emphasize seeing the interrelationships between topics and concepts. Students are encouraged to bring their personal knowledge and experience to bear on a question or issue and interact with others during class discussions and group projects. The major focus of an honors class is not on increasing the quantity of the workload. Instead, honors courses increase the quality of the learning experience by exploring topics in greater depth and breadth. As a result, honors students encounter a range of historical, technical and cultural points of view that they may not have experienced in a non-honors section of the same course. The emphasis on interactive classroom settings, critical thinking, library research, strong writing skills and group presentations and critiques is extraordinarily valuable to the student because it anticipates the rigor and intensity of the university experience. At the same time, the personal attention extended by committed and caring professors, counselors and classmates creates and sustains the "small and supportive" atmosphere that students come to love about the Honors Program.

Why are writing and critical thinking skills at the heart of the Honors Program curriculum?
The ability to write and communicate clearly and effectively is central to a student's success in school and in their career. A strong foundation in English will help you to organize and present complex ideas and to read challenging works accurately and critically. Success in all courses, including mathematics and the sciences, will depend upon your ability to read, write and think!

How will my participation in the Honors Program benefit me?
Honors courses offer motivated, goal-oriented students an opportunity to learn in an energetic, academic environment that enables students and instructors to explore subjects at a greater depth than would ordinarily be possible in a non-honors course. An Honors designation automatically enhances the impact of a student's transcript on a potential transfer institution because it shows a student's dedication to academic challenge and excellence. For students who complete about 15 units of transferable honors work there are special transfer agreements which offer:

  • guaranteed priority consideration for admission as a junior to UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, Pomona College, Chapman University, Occidental College and Pitzer College and Whitman College.
  • entrance as a junior into the San Diego State University Honors Program
  • expedited transfer to many other universities who tend to give higher consideration to applicants based on "academic rigor of program completed";
  • personalized academic and career planning with a designated honors counselor;
  • opportunities for special honors scholarships, both at the community college level and at transfer universities;
  • guidance in writing college admission essays and personal letters of recommendation from honors faculty or coordinators.

The San Diego Community College District Honors Program takes pride not only in its reputation for academic excellence and integrity, but in the exceptional quality and diversity of the students who transfer from our program to universities throughout California and the United States.

What is the Honors General Core Curriculum?
The City College Honors Program has linked several university-transferable courses together around the theme “A World of Ideas,” and encourages students to progress through the sequence together. IN this way the relationship of complex ideas can be explored over an extended period of time, academic skill-building can be reinforced, and a stronger sense of community can be developed among all participants in the program.
The G.E. core experience is certainly recommended as an excellent way to position one’s self for the use of our honors transfer agreements (see above). Applications may be submitted to the Honors office in A-1-N, and must include a transcript of earlier work, a piece of writing based on an assigned reading, and possibly a follow up interview. Maintaining good standing, as in the general Honors Program, requires a cumulative 3.25 GPA.

What is an "Honors Contract"?
An Honors Contract gives both students and faculty in a non-honors section the exciting opportunity to do honors work. In principle, a contract could be designed for almost any college course, whether for vocational enhancement or for transfer. It is an agreement that specifies the honors level objectives and tasks to be completed by the student in addition to those of the normal class. The contract also includes the methods of evaluation, a syllabus for the non-honors course appropriately amended with the honors components, and a signature sheet, indicating acceptance by the student and instructor. Contracts are made at the discretion of the professor and with the assistance of campus honors coordinators. Honors contract requirements may include additional readings, writing, as well as special projects. The biggest advantage of honors contracts is that they allow students to explore their favorite subjects in greater depth while compiling the honors units that they need to transfer within the boundaries of their own personal schedule.

How do I turn my non-honors class into an Honors Contract?
Once you decide which course you would like to convert to “honors,” approach the professor on or before the first day of class if possible to ask if he or she is willing to do an Honors Contract. If the professor agrees, you must pick up Honors Contract forms from the Honors office located in A-1N as soon as possible in order to complete the Honors Contract process within the first two weeks of school. After completing the contract application, it is necessary to obtain signatures from the course instructor before returning the form to A-1-N. The Honors Coordinator will acquire additional signatures. As a general guideline, you may anticipate an investment of one-quarter to one- third more effort in earning honors credit, remember that performance expectation are higher in Honors contracts! Once your contract has been processed, you may NOT go back into the regular section of the course. An administrative process is used to move you into honors standing, and your formal transcript will reflect your completion of an Honors course.

What if a professor is unwilling to offer an Honors contract?
While this is a fairly rare occurrence, professors are sometimes unwilling to offer Honors Contracts when first approached. In most cases, this is due to unfamiliarity with the Honors Program and the Honors Contract process. If you are confronted with this situation, contact your campus Honors Coordinator as soon as possible for assistance. While offering Honors Contracts is voluntary, many professors who are unfamiliar with this program elect to participate once they are fully informed about the process and the benefits to students.

What is an Education Plan and how can I obtain one?
An Education Plan is an indispensable guideline designed to assist students in mapping out their academic major and general education course work in preparation for transfer. With the assistance of the Honors Counselor, students are strongly urged to construct an Educational Plan sometime during their first semester of college. If a student changes majors or choice of transfer institutions, the Education Plan must be revised in order to remain current. The Honors Program recommends that students meet with their Honors counselor once each semester to be sure that they are on the right track.

Is it necessary to declare a major to participate in the City College Honors Program?
No. It is not necessary to declare a major upon your enrollment at SDCC. However, if you intend to work toward a Certificate, or an Associate Degree, you must state your major soon after enrolling. Until you select a major, you will be unable to determine the courses you will need to complete your degree or certificate.

Are there any active Honors Societies on this campus?
Yes! City College has an active of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK). Membership activities include performing community service projects, organizing charitable fundraisers, and sponsoring on-campus lectures and special events, as well as many social activities. Student members also receive valuable transfer and scholarship information throughout the year via special workshops or guest speakers. Membership is open to all students who meet the established GPA requirements. For more information about eligibility, meeting dates and times, call Student Affairs at (619) 388-3498 or drop by the Student Affairs office located in D-106.

Are tutoring services available on this campus?
Yes! Tutoring in select disciplines is available to all SDCC students free of charge. The College Tutorial Center is in L-205, (619) 388-3685. Students needing help with their writing and critical thinking skills can find assistance from peer tutors in the English Center, located in the "L" BUILDING - Room L-209. Tutoring help in all levels of English including ESL is available after the first week of the semester during posted hours. Students needing assistance in Math can drop by or contact the Math Center, located in the "L" BUILDING - Room L-208. For more information about the Math Center and a complete description of the services they offer call (619) 388-3580. Disabled students seeking tutoring and other academic assistance services may visit or contact the DSPS office located in the "A" BUILDING - Room A-115. For more information about DSPS and a complete description of the services they offer call (619) 388-3513 or, via TTY at (619) 388-3313. Peer tutoring for other disciplines may also be available. Before contacting any unknown person who may advertise tutoring services via the campus bulletin boards, be sure to ask your instructor for free or low cost tutoring recommendations.

What is the difference between the “College catalog” and the “College Class Schedule?”
The catalog is a detailed publication of all college policies, regulations and course descriptions of every class offered at SDCC. The Schedule of Classes, which is published three times per year in Spring, Summer and Fall, gives detailed information about courses offered during a specific semester including the day, time, units, location, professor and the all important course reference number.

How do I add or drop a class?
All registered students who are cleared to enroll in classes may add a course through Reg-E UP UNTIL THE FRIDAY BEFORE THE FIRST DAY OF CLASS. After that, students must receive an "add code" from the instructor before the system will allow them to add the class. Students may drop or withdraw from a class at anytime using the Reg-E system up until the established WITHDRAWAL DEADLINE for that semester. Note: if students do not drop or withdraw from a class by this date, then they will receive an "F" for the class. This grade will appear on their official record and may greatly affect their overall GPA.

What do I do if a class I want is closed?
If you attempt to register for a class using Reg-E and receive a recorded message which states "an add code is needed for this class," you must contact the instructor to receive that add code. This message may mean that the class is full, or it may mean that the class has some special restrictions, such as the "honors core" classes, which require an application. In either case, contact the instructor as soon as possible in order to get an add code, get your name on a crash list," or to determine what special requirements need to be met. If the instructor can not be reached by phone, you may place a note for him or her in that individual's faculty mailbox located in the campus mailroom.

How many units must I take in order to be considered a full-time student?
The San Diego Community College District recognizes all those enrolled in 12 or more units as "full-time students." Most financial aid and other student funding depend upon maintaining a full-time student status. Do not drop below this level of units until you have thoroughly investigated the requirements set by your loan provider, or other funding sources.

Where and when do I buy books and supplies for my classes?
Students may buy their required college textbooks and supplies from a variety of sources. However, City College has a well-stocked campus bookstore that is certain to have all of the textbooks and materials required for your class because these items were ordered in advance by your City College instructors. Using the class title, course reference number and instructor's name, students can go to the bookstore to obtain a listing of all the required and suggested texts and materials for their classes. If a student chooses, he or she may purchase their textbooks from the City College Bookstore or from other sources including online book dealers or any other commercial bookstore. When purchasing books and supplies from a source other than the City College Bookstore, it is strongly recommended that students verify that the materials they are about to purchase are exactly the same as those required by the instructor (e.g. the same author, the same edition, the same translation, etc.) and that these materials are in stock. A word to the wise - ALWAYS save ALL of your bookstore receipts until you are assured that you have the all correct texts needed for your class! That way, if an instructor deletes or changes a required text, you will be able to get a refund on your purchase.

How can I best prepare for my honors classes?

  • Attend every class meeting.
  • Participate actively in class discussions and exercises.
  • Take notes during lectures; class discussions and oral and film/video presentations.
  • Complete all assignments on time and in the appropriate format.
  • Complete all reading assignments in advance.
  • Arrive to class on time and stay the entire class period.
  • Have your class materials ready to go.
  • Seek out your professors during their office hours.