Why I Joined the Honors Program at LaGuardia

the interview was conducted by STEM istructors Dr. Amit Aggarwal, Dr. Tao Chen, Dr. Lucia Fuentes, and Dr. Roman Senkov.

A Note from the LaGuardia Honors Program

Did you know LaGuardia has an Honors Program which offers students some unique opportunities for their studies? Fifteen years ago, Dr. Karlyn Koh spearheaded an initiative to create an Honors Program at LaGuardia, which would provide students with the opportunity to enroll in courses with fewer students, and where professors would stimulate their students to engage in research projects, creative works, and community outreach. Honors students from different departments, and with diverse interests, make up the Honors Students Advisory Committee (HSAC http://www.laguardiahonors.com/). This community of students organizes workshops on transfer and scholarship opportunities ‐ open to every student at LaGuardia ‐ as well as keeps the Honors community informed about regional and national conferences where students can present their work and their semester projects.

Should you take an Honors class? It is one thing for an advisor or a professor to recommend that you take one. But you may very well want to hear what the experience is like from another student's point of view. In this issue of Ad Astra, we asked a group of STEM students who took Honor’s courses in Biology, Chemistry or Physics in the past year, to answer a few questions about what that experience was like. Below we have compiled representative answers from a few of these students. We greatly appreciate the effort made by professors to contact their former students, and, above all, we appreciate all those students who kindly took the time to answer the survey. In the future, we hope to run similar surveys with students in Social Sciences and humanities.

Dr. Lucia Fuentes and Dr. Noam Scheindlin,
co-directors of the LaGuardia Honors Program

1. How did you find out about the existence of honors courses at LaGuardia and what was the main motivation that led you to register in a (Chemistry...Biology...Physics) Honors course?

A1. I found it on CUNYfirst Enrollment section. I heard honor class provide more challenges so I want to have a try. Nice professors will be another reason.

Caiwu Chen (Computer Science major): I received a handout regarding the Honor courses every semester. I also saw some courses listed as HONORS in the CUNYFirst section. For those courses in my DegreeWork, I was willing to take the honors classes because I believe it can enrich my resume. Also, honors classes tend to be taught by a nice professor, who will provide extra resources and guidance. Making friends with honors class students is also a good way to expand my social network.

A3. Very interesting

A4. I registered for honors courses to show the fools judging me based on a transcript that nothing is beyond my reach.

Charles Lee-Georgescu (Mechanical Engineering major): I found out about the classes through an email from the LaGuardia's Honors Program. The college does an excellent job of informing students of the curriculum and availabilities. The honors classes, in addition to providing challenges, instill a strong sense of community among classmates. I think this is what I enjoy most about them.

Rabeca Mohammed (Mechanical Engineering major): I received an email from the Honors Program. In spring 2020, I registered in a “General Physics II” honors course because it was taught by a professor I knew. I had taken the “General Physics I” course in my freshman year with him and found his teaching method to be very interesting and graspable. He has an awe-inspiring command of the material and gives crystal-clear explanations.

Tania Makki (Biology major): I was informed of the existence of the honors program by my advisor and from the Natural Sciences department. I was eager to take “General Chemistry” in Honors because I wanted to have a deeper learning experience and to be in a more interactive class. This opportunity was a great way to keep me engaged and motivated to have a broader learning experience.

A8. Very interesting

A9. I was in honors class by accident. I choose courses for professors.

Adina Hojda (Biology major): I came to know about the honors courses when registering for my “General Chemistry II” course. The honors course was on the list with non-honors courses. I did some research to have a better understanding about it and I learned about its advantages. I learned that students get more benefits such as special scholarships and that it is easier to get an internship or research opportunities - factors that motivated me to take the course.

A11. My ASAP Advisor help me to choose me this Honors course (SCC 202). The main motive is time management skills in specific works, learned how to study deeply to make our major subject easily and how it grows with the time.

A12. I learned of Honors courses via email from LaGuardia. I believed that completing the Honors courses is prestigious, will help me in current studies as well as transferring into senior colleges for the bachelor's degree.

A13. I fond about the honors courses through My LaGuadia page, I read more about it and I understood all the benefits it could bring to me so I decided to sign up for Honors General Biology I, and It was great

A14. I took the general biology 1 course and it was in the honors courses. I thought the course will be advanced or have a better quality of curriculum than the other regular courses.

A15. Being part of the Honors courses its a very good opportunity for any student which helps us to secure scholarships and entrance to our target colleges.

2. Compared to non-honors courses that you have taken at LaGuardia, what would you say was the main advantage or gain (if any) of taking an Honors course?

A1. I think there will be more communication between students and instructors.

Caiwu Chen (Computer Science major): I think that the honors course professors are all responsible and friendly. They care about their students and answer questions patiently. If students have great achievements in their academics, the professor will most likely recommend the student to other places. For example, I took an English writing honors class before, and our professor recommended our essay and writing to be published in the Honors Journal or website. That is a great opportunity.

A3. This class was better than the two class without honors I took before with were pre-calculus and math 201

A4. The main advantage was the autonomy in the process of learning. The sooner we understand and accept that we have to be the vanguards of our own education, the more prosperous we will be. Being a passive learner will rarely yield opportunities for excellence, especially for disenfranchised communities.

A5. The smaller class sizes are really nice, and your classmates are going to inspire you to do more.

Rabeca Mohammed (Mechanical Engineering major): There was a research component linked to the “General Physics” Honors course. Through this, I learned coding, data visualization, attained greater understanding of planetary science, and worked effectively in a team setting.

Tania Makki (Biology major): The main advantage of taking an honors class was the extra support that I received from my professor. Also, my fellow classmates were as motivated as me which created a better learning experience.

A8. This class was better than the two class without honors I took before with were pre-calculus and math 201

A9. Taking honors course shares more learning information and resources. And also, honors class will take me more solid. There is a power that to push yourself to study more when taking Honors course.

Adina Hojda (Biology major): I gained significant knowledge. The honors course helped me gain much more knowledge than the normal courses. What made the difference was the instructor. The professor I had for my chemistry Honors course was very knowledgeable and well prepared on the subject. His lectures were clear and easy to follow despite the difficulty of the material.

Royash Shrestha (Civil Engineering major): I learned about the use of different skills like presentation skills, research skills, time management skills, as well as challenges, which made it more interesting.

A12. Honors courses offer more streamlined, resourceful and consistently quality material and teaching compared to non-honors courses. Professors are helpful yet persistent in making sure the classes are moving along successfully.

Felipe Perez (Biology major): The honors course gave me a lot ‐ not only a closer interaction with the professor but also the opportunity of asking all the possible questions that I could come up with, leading to a more enriched learning experience. It also opened the doors for me to be part of the CUNY Research Scholars Program (CRSP) which I was very interested in. The honors courses also make your transcript and resume stand out from the rest.

Kayoung Lee (Biology major): I had an opportunity of deeper study on a bio subject (covid-19) through a research assignment in the course. I learned about what is an actual bio perspective related to our real life. The other non-honors course provided basic lectures to obtain credits.

A15. Honor classes provide students with educational opportunities to develop their own ideas, discuss issues and embrace innovation.

3. Students planning to transfer to four-year colleges or doing pre-med are sometimes reluctant to take an Honors course because they think it might be tougher to get good grades in these courses. What was your experience in this respect? Have you had access to opportunities for scholarships and transfers as a result of being an honors student?

A1. I think it is because they want to trasnfer to four-year colleges, they need to take Honor courses. It can not only enrich their resumes, but also polish their skills.

A2. I think for those who want to transfer to four-year colleges, it is a very good idea to attend Honor class. It can not only enrich your resume, but expand your social network. In four-year college, we will face more difficult questions and tougher to get good grades. We have to get used to it. It is a good chance to get familiar with that.

A3. My experience was I get a better ideas in math, this class pushes me to wanna do math research and our professor give some suggestions about opportunities with was scholarships

A4. The material is not more difficult nor is the course lid increased. It simply demands more of students by holding them accountable to do the work on their own. It puts the responsibility of learning on the student and indirectly teaches students to learn when and how to ask for help when they need it. These classes are for highly self-motivated students, not for those seeking an easy pass. I have yet to experience any opportunities from completing honors courses.

Charles Lee-Georgescu (Mechanical Engineering major): I would recommend anyone who is undecided about trying an Honors course to go for it. Often, these classes will actually allow you to perform even better because they are tight-knit. Teachers and students are very supportive of each other. Perhaps you'll come out the other side with a greater sense of accomplishment. Institutions want to see that you are challenging yourself and being innovative. Honors courses are an excellent opportunity to demonstrate this, while honing your skills.

A6. Honors courses are quite challenging but doable. Being in a small room, help is individualized and the professors make sure you understand the material. Honors courses also make you stand out when you’re transferring to a four-year.

Tania Makki (Biology major): Yes, I believe that taking an honors class made my transfer application much easier. Also, for higher education I see that I have a better opportunity to enter the colleges of my preference. I have not yet applied to scholarships, but many great scholarships appreciate a student that has taken an honors class.

A8. My experience was I get a better ideas in math, this class pushes me to wanna do math research and our professor give some suggestions about opportunities with was scholarships.

A9. In my opinion, taking honors course is harder than ordinary course. But, I have a chance to learn more on honors course since there are a lot of assignments on honors course. I had access to opportunities for scholarship as an honors student.

A10. I didn't have any opportunity yet, as a result of being an honor student. However I do agree that the course was more challenging and demanding than a non-honors course. I do believe though that a well-prepared instructor makes the difference. In my case it did.

A11. I figured out that Honor courses are the best way to accelerate GPA and I also took this thing from my chemistry class. I am planning to do the transfer in Fall Section. So, I have no experience on that note. ButIi heard about the Scholarship which we will get if I know my weakness, strength and build confident.

A12. Having completed Honors courses with good grades definitely opens up more doors to success. I have been offered transfer to multiple great four-year colleges with scholarships. I have applied for several scholarships successfully.

Felipe Perez (Biology major): I'd say all the contrary. Being part of the honors course lead me to learn the subject in depth ‐ when having a really good grasp of the content you will always have better grades. In my case I got an “A”, which of course helped in maintaining my GPA and enhancing my transcript. Right now I'm in the process of applying to different colleges and most of them ask if I have taken any honors courses.

Kayoung Lee (Biology major): I haven't tried to transfer schools or apply to scholarships yet. Taking the Honors course can be tough but I learned a lot of information and it led me to study harder than usual. Taking the Honors course helped to open my eyes, and I was able to see how other students studied compared to me. I could see that they studied, participated and prepared more than usual.

A15. I believe students with a good GPA and honors course will have advantage.