The mission of the Honors College at Florida Gulf Coast University is to provide student scholars the opportunities, mentoring, and resources to fully realize the potential of their university education. Through small classes filled with inquisitive students, one-on-one mentoring by outstanding faculty and peers, and innovative curricular experiences, Honors students graduate prepared for academic and professional success. The Honors College expressly values Academic Excellence, Cultural Exploration, Civic Engagement and Public Service, Transformative Leadership, and Personal Transformation, what we have termed the "Five Pillars of Honors."
The Five Pillars of Honors are intertwined values and practices that guide our exceptional community of learners. Each pillar contributes to the intellectual, social, and personal transformation that is part of the Honors College experience. The Honors College helps provide students the opportunities, mentoring and tools to benefit from each of the Pillars.
Below is a brief description of each of these areas, along with some example activities students may participate to develop within them. These examples are meant to be illustrative and thus do not represent all activities students may engage in within a particular pillar. The best students are creative. We recognize that each individual has different interests and goals, and that students will naturally be attracted to some features of the Honors College more than others. However, all Honors students will experience these features of the Honors College to varying degrees.
Academic Excellence is more than just earning good grades and a diploma. Academic Excellence for the Honors College is defined by engaging in high-impact academic pursuits that go beyond the four walls of the classroom. Examples are conducting research with a faculty mentor, participating in an internship or co-op, presenting a paper at an academic conference, publishing research or a creative work in a journal, writing an Honors thesis during the senior year, and applying for nationally competitive scholarship opportunities.
Technology enables us to travel and communicate more quickly and broadly than ever; further, we live in a more culturally diverse society than ever before. Therefore, it is important for students to explore cultures and broaden their cultural horizons. This may include studying a foreign language, participating in a Study Away or Study Abroad program, becoming involved in a cultural organization at FGCU, and eventually applying for a Gilman or Fulbright national scholarship for further international experiences. International experiences associated with coursework and last at least a semester are the most impactful.
Civic Engagement and Public Service
Honors students are encouraged to be leaders on campus and in their communities, actively working to improve the campus, the country, and the world. Students who choose the Honors Service Experience program commit to double the number of service-learning hours required for non-Honors students. They learn leadership by taking Honors service labs that help them create high-impact service projects. For example, Honors students organize campus fundraisers, such as the annual St. Baldrick’s Day head-shaving event that started in Honors and is now campus-wide, raising over $16,000 last fall for childhood cancer research. Honors students also organized the Trails for Tails run to Key West that generates awareness and money for wildlife conservation.
The Honors College believes that leadership is not just determined by a title or hierarchical structure, and Honors students are expected to graduate with the skills to lead a group to success. We believe leadership is creating opportunities for others to grow in their areas of study and personal development. Our Honors students are involved in, and often hold leadership positions within, almost every student organization on our campus. Honors students collaborate to expand the impact their leadership has on our university and beyond. The Honors College creates opportunities for student leadership through the Honors Mentor Program, which is designed to help first-year students recognize their leadership abilities and pursue them with the help and guidance of peers. Honors students can also take Honors courses designed to teach leadership principals. Other examples of leaderships could be organizing a campus or community event, running for elected office on campus or in the community, starting your own business, editing the student newspaper or publication, or serving as a Resident Advisor.
How will you be different after four years at FGCU? This pillar is the culmination of all of the other pillars, because the ultimate goal of an Honors education is personal transformation. Students, of course, want a diploma, but by taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the Honors College, students will also be transformed, intellectually, culturally, and socially. The Honors College’s curriculum and related activities are designed to offer students increased success, opportunities, and resources, so that they grow and develop throughout their entire university experience.