Angela Gelfer

Angela  Gelfer

Sammamish, WA

High School:





Western Today - 05/24/12

Western sophomore Angela Gelfer has always been a kind of student who enjoys challenging herself. At Western, she found her niche in the Honors Program, a rigorous academic program for highly motivated and excelling students. Gelfer, a geology student and member of Western's women's rowing team, finds a way to balance rigorous classes that include lengthy labs and a sport - in her case, one that is both physically demanding and time-consuming. That's the way of life for most honors students at Western.

Admission to the program is based solely on academic record, and while Honors students are high academic achievers, the program attracts some of the university's most balanced and involved students. Like Gelfer, many of them are also athletes or musicians - generally well-rounded individuals who know how to juggle many responsibilities and activities.

The program appeals to high-achieving students, says Honors Program director and history professor George Mariz, because of the attention they receive here. With about 60 honors students per year graduating and a low professor-to-student ratio, students have access to private-college education within a larger university - without the hefty private-college price tag.

The past few years have seen high student interest, with about 480 applicants in 2010, about 530 in 2011 and a record-shattering 870 this year. One of every 11 students who applied to Western this year also applied to the Honors Program.

Mariz has noticed an overlap between students who are applying to Western Honors and students applying to private small liberal arts colleges, and in some years, even the larger, more well-known schools such Stanford, Rice and Yale.

Honors courses are not necessarily harder, he says; they are just a different kind of work. They're discussion-based and push for critical thinking.

"Our classes are small, they're highly interactive - there's a lot of interaction between students and faculty, a lot of interaction among students themselves," Mariz says.


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