Many students begin their journey to a baccalaureate degree and beyond by completing their first two years of study at a community college. Affordable tuition rates, convenient class times, and accessible campuses are three of the most common reasons students give for attending a community college. In many instances, four-year institutions within the state apply all, or nearly all, of the college credits earned at a community college to their own baccalaureate degrees. In fact, many students moving from a community college to a four-year college within their own state transfer to their new school as third-year students. However, students transferring out-of-state may not fare as well, especially if there is a perceived discrepancy in the rigor of a course taken at a community college versus one at the four-year institution.
About four years ago, the for-profit company, Quad Learning, created a nationwide alliance between select community colleges and four year institutions called American Honors. The goal of the initiative is to produce achievement-oriented community college graduates who will in turn go on to successfully complete four-year degrees. The American Honors program provides an innovative “holistic” approach to the student, providing a five-step plan to a transfer-oriented education. Assistance with creating a degree pathway, selecting a school, selecting courses, and applying for financial aid and scholarships are part of the process, according to the American Honors Web site. Community involvement outside the classroom is encouraged as well. American Honors-dedicated seminars and advisors help keep the student on track and focused on the goal of transferring to a four-year college. The result is a student who is at a competitive advantage to transfer to, as well as graduate from, a four-year school.
The American Honors network currently includes 50 state and private four-year colleges and universities, including Rutgers and Stockton University in New Jersey. A complete list of four-year colleges in the American Honors Network can be found here. Some four-year schools in the network guarantee admission to American Honors community college graduates. Mercer County Community College in West Windsor and Union County College in Cranford are the two community colleges in New Jersey affiliated with the American Honors Program.
There is a special application process that a student must complete in order to become an American Honors scholar. Application to the program is initiated at the community college level. An additional American Honors tuition fee as well as an American Honors technology fee may be added to the regular tuition rates of American Honors colleges.