A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO LEARNING

Fears of fighting to stay above water in an honors class were never realized for Collin College student Nina Cook.

Instead, honors course provided an environment she hadn’t anticipated – one where she thrived.

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With goals of earning a doctorate and becoming an English or history professor, it was the draw of having an honors course on her transcript that persuaded Cook to enroll in her first class.

“It turned out, honors courses are not harder than typical Collin courses, but they are different,” Cook said. “And they’re perfect for students who love discourse. They are much more discussion based.”

According to Jenny Warren, Honors Institute director, honors courses simply take a different approach to teaching.

“A major misconception I find students believe about honors courses is they are exceptionally more difficult than typical courses,” Warren said. “That stereotype just isn’t true, and honors students benefit from perks, such as honors-designated scholarships, free printing, private study labs and computer rooms and early registration.”

Cook claims, like all courses, honors courses are challenging.

“But they are also fun, and I would rather have a challenging course that is also fun than one I have to work equally hard on and don’t enjoy as much,” Cook said.

Identifying liberal arts as her forte, Cook’s long-term plans involve attending The University of Texas at Dallas and earning a doctorate in the history of ideas.

Despite her long-time loathing of math, Cook registered for an honors algebra course with Professor Chip Galloway that significantly altered her perspective.

“At the start of the semester, Professor Galloway said that we would be focusing chiefly on functions,” Cook said. “This, naturally, made me very nervous and scared, having done poorly with functions in the past. By the end of the semester, because of Professor Galloway’s unique teaching style and way of explaining things, I had learned how to solve functions and understood the beauty of math for the first time.”

Cook admits she will likely never love math, but comments that the honors algebra course opened an entire new world for her.

On a path to a 4-year degree then graduate school, Cook believes she learned an important lesson early.

“Different doesn’t mean unmanageable,” Cook said. “It just means different.”

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