Honors College gains new guide program

By Amando Dominick

Staff Writer

The Baylor Honors College is testing a new program that will benefit both freshmen and upperclassmen.

The new Honor Guide program, which enters the experimental phase this fall, will pair an upperclassman with two to four honors freshman to mentor during the 2012-2013 school year. Only available to honors students, the new program will be announced at the Honors Freshman Assembly at 7 p.m. tonight in Bennett Auditorium. Alamogordo, N.M. senior Allison Harlaine, the president of the Honors Student Advisory Council (HSAC) will make the announcement.

Harlaine was unavailable for comment.

Upperclassmen will receive upper-level honors credit for participating in the program, along with “creative rewards,” said Sarah Marcum, Honors Program Faculty Advisor and Sponsor to the Honors Student Advisory Council. The creative rewards have yet to be determined, but will be included to assure that the Honor Guides feel appreciated and rewarded, Marcum said.

The Honors Student Advisory Council will match students based on majors and interests.

“HSAC is the matchmaker,” Marcum said. Marcum said the time commitment for the Honor Guides is a minimum of eight interactions per year, including “four times with their small group of two to four freshmen and twice a semester for an Honors event chosen at the Honor Guide’s discretion.”

In addition, Marcum said the guides must essentially be on-call, available to answer their group’s questions through texting, email or Facebook.

Though the idea is still being tested, Marcum said the council has discussed the idea of partnering with Student Life to train future guides. Proper training will be essential.

Proper training for the Guides is crucial.

“It helps them to reduce stress knowing what their role is and where it ends,” Marcum said. “If a guide gets over their head, they have someone to pass the baton to, whether it be anyone in the HSAC or even myself.”

DeLand, Fla. senior Emily Tichenor, the former president of the Honors Student Advisory Council, said she came up with the idea of the Honor Guide system at the end of last year and it was approved over the summer. Assuming the program is successful, it will continue.

“It’s scary being a freshman and those upperclassmen are really intimidating,” Tichenor said. She hopes this motivation will improve under- and upperclassmen relations and build community among .

“Hopefully through this program, these incoming freshmen can realize that the upperclassmen are students just like them.”

Marcum said she believes there is more for upperclassmen to enjoy by participating than just getting credit

“There’s the intrinsic benefit that they’ve helped a younger student, helped the Honors Program, can put it on a resume as a leadership role, and it’s also just a plain good thing to do,” Marcum said.

Al Beck, admissions coordinator for the Honors Program, echoed Marcum’s excitement.

“I think it will be a great experience as the incoming freshmen begin their Baylor experience in the Honors Program.”