Distinguished program-a waste or an advantage?

by Eduardo Calderon|Staff Writer

As students begin to graduate, that means applying for college, and looking back on four years spent on a certain graduation plan.

“To attend university they must graduate from the recommended or distinguished plan,” counselor Amy Dominguez said.

The distinguished program takes more effort from students then the recommended plan.

“It’s more of a personal goal,” Dominguez said, “Plus they go first in graduation.”

To be placed on the distinguished program, students must meet certain requirements.

“They have to have 26 credits, 3 credits of the same foreign language, and four scores of a 3,4,5 on an AP exam, dual credit, or research project,” Dominguez said.

Colleges will know right away that the student applying is on the distinguished list.

“It will be on their transcript once they apply to the college they want to attend,” Dominguez said.

Colleges look for their requirements about being distinguished on the transcript, and will look for the smallest details.

“My son was flagged at UTSA for not having all three of his foreign language credits on his transcript, when he actually did complete all three years,” Dominguez said.

Although having to complete all the requirements in high school, some colleges look for a few out of those completed to be accepted in the distinguished program.

“If that’s the requirement for the college then you have to have it, unless the individual school does not need it [the requirements can be found on their website],” Dominguez said.

Even though the distinguished program is very prominent, some feel that it may actually be worthless.

“I kinda think it’s a waste of time, because it’s a districtwide distinguished [program] that colleges don’t look at,” junior Kyle Brown.

Some Texas colleges require all the necessary requirements that Johnson pushes for their students.

Texas State says their distinguished plan is credits earned must be for any three levels in the same foreign language, advanced measures with any combination of the four, an original research/project, test data a student receives, or college academic courses, advanced technical credit courses, and dual credit courses including local articulation, with a grade of 3.0 or higher.

Texas State receives test data from three different places. Test data a student receives can be a score of three or above on the College Board advanced placement examination, score of four or above on an International Baccalaureate examination, or a score on the PSAT that qualifies the student for a National Merit Scholarship Placement.

Other colleges in Texas do not need the full list of requirements such as the Aggies advanced placement program.

Texas A&M University accepts scores on certain College Board Advanced Placement tests for credit in selected courses.

Other colleges do not even share the same requirement list as the distinguished plan at Johnson such as UT’s Distinguished Gateway Scholar’s Program which advises that applicants should start as soon as seniors in high school.

UT’s program requires a minimum GPA of 2.2, ten hours of community service, three hours total in Gateway Academic Coaching, membership in a club or organization, attendance at all three cohort meetings, and attendance at any seven of the ten Gateway Distinguished Lecture Series.

With so many different distinguished programs at colleges, some students feel a universal requirement list would be easier for both sides.

“Colleges should look at grades, and then activities that people stayed in to see if they meet the distinguished honors,” Brown said.


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