Community colleges have long been a low-cost way for students to start work on a bachelor’s degree, but some students have found it hard to transfer to a prestigious four-year university once they’ve earned their associate degree.
Now, a new national program aims to pump up the rigor at certain community colleges, making them a more reliable on-ramp to a selective college.
The program is called American Honors, and so far it’s only being offered at one Washington community college system, Community Colleges of Spokane. The three-school district in Spokane was one of two colleges nationwide to pilot the program.
An integrated sequence of classes focusing on English, math, science and social studies, the program emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving, effective oral and written communication, teamwork and leadership.
Soon it could be heading to the west side of the state.
“We know that American Honors has met with community colleges in the South Sound area, and we understand there is strong interest in becoming involved,” said Jenny Rickard, vice president of the University of Puget Sound, in an email. UPS is one of the four-year schools in the American Honors network — a network of 27 four-year institutions that promise to make it easier for American Honors graduates to transfer into their institutions.
Two Washington schools in the network — Gonzaga University and Whitworth University, both in Spokane — offer “contingent enrollment,” meaning they will guarantee admission for students who complete the honors program in good academic standing.
UPS promises to facilitate credit transfers for students who graduate from American Honors.
There is an added cost to the program — American Honors students pay about $2,000 more per year than other community college students for their education.