For the first time in its history, the University Honors Program will be instituting a formal application process for students who wish to become full-fledged “Honors Students” at Texas A&M University. The change will go into effect beginning in the Fall 2012 semester, which means that incoming freshmen and continuing students alike will need to apply now.
“Although this may seem like a major paradigm shift, moving to an application will allow the office to better focus its resources on students who truly wish to engage in all that Honors has to offer,” says Assistant Director Jon Kotinek. “It may seem cumbersome at first, but I’m confident that all students will find that it will result in a more satisfying educational experience for everyone concerned.”
Honors Students admitted to the University Honors Program or any one of the college and departmental honors programs will have exclusive access to benefits such as Honors Priority Registration, the Honors Housing Community, Honors Course Contracts and Independent Study, and priority access to honors and fellowships advising and special programming. All students who maintain a 3.5 or higher cumulative GPR will be able to enroll in Honors courses.
“One of the biggest changes will be that all incoming freshmen who are accepted into Honors will be required to spend their freshmen year in the Honors Housing Community,” Kotinek adds. “In this way, we’re actually moving to a sort of ‘residential program.’ I think it will give us a real opportunity to develop some incredibly ‘high impact’ programming.”
Incoming freshmen can access the incoming student application via the ApplyTexas application. The continuing student application opened August 28, 2011 and close February 24, 2012. Students are encouraged to meet one-on-one with an Honors advisor to help determine which distinction(s) best fit their academic and curricular needs. A number of open briefings will also be offered; the schedule of these briefings is posted on the Honors and Undergraduate Research website.
“The application process itself will be relatively simple,” Kotinek says. “Students will have to answer three fairly short essay questions, and our review process will be holistic, taking into account not only the student’s academic preparation but also his or her personal vision, passion for learning, commitment, and risk-taking, not to mention curiosity, self-awareness, and creativity.”
The move to an application process opens a new chapter in the long and storied history of Honors at Texas A&M. Opportunities for Honors study at Texas A&M University were initiated in the mid-1960s in what was then the College of Arts and Sciences. Subsequently, the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Science, and Geosciences co-sponsored an Honors Program, and by 1968 all of the academic colleges had joined in the endeavor.
In 1978, the University Honors Program offered a modest thirty honors sections of twenty different courses, with only three upper-division (300-400) courses available. Ten years later, the number of honors sections jumped to 148 in 117 different courses but the number of upper-division sections available was still relatively small at thirty eight. Annual enrollments had climbed from 650 to over 2,000.
In recent years, the growth of Honors study opportunities has been dramatic – for the 2010-2011 academic year, over 300 sections of Honors courses are offered, and in the fall 2010 semester alone, approximately 3,000 students engaged in Honors study at Texas A&M.
Questions about the application process can be directed to Honors and Undergraduate Research, (979) 845-1957 or firstname.lastname@example.org.