A little something extra
AU honors program boosts normal education
The AU Honors Program seeks to be more than academic, said Professor Maria Green Cowles, the Program's associate director.
The 1,100 Honors students, as well as Honors faculty and staff strive to create a unique community, she said. Students have access to variations in class offerings, special events and a resource for all aspects of academic life, Cowles said.
Students initially invited into the program as freshmen receive notification through their acceptance packages, she said.
Using SAT and ACT scores as well as other relevant academic factors, the program admits approximately 15 percent of each entering class. This fall, 230 new students (freshman and transfers) were admitted with an average SAT score of 1401 and an average GPA of 3.8, according to an Honors Program spokesperson.
Once at AU, interested students can apply to the program through a self-nomination process. After a year, students can submit an application form with relevant academic information, explanation of what a student hopes to gain from the program and a letter of recommendation from a professor.
"Many times, you will find very bright students who just had a bad day when they took their SATs," said Cowles. "Others may really flourish on campus and could really benefit from the program."
After being accepted to the program, students have access to a variety of resources. Student must complete 30 credit hours in honors courses with a grade of a B or above including a senior capstone. Students can choose to graduate with University Honors or with Honors within their major. Special class offerings range from honors sections of general education courses, to special honors colloquia.
"The class offerings are really broad, and even if you can't find an honors class, you can just supplement a regular class," sophomore Mike Inganamort said. "The classes are also much smaller and allow for more intense debate."
Some honors professors said they enjoy the smaller classes and more in-depth level of study. Courses and expectations rise above the normal level of collegiate academics.
"In my case, I know I can ratchet up the level of expectation," SOC Professor Rose Ann Robertson said. "I have high expectations in all my classes, but
I expect honors students can and will be challenged at a higher level and as a result think more and perform at a level higher than even they might have thought."
As a part of the academic process, freshmen and sophomore students must participate in honors advising. Students meet with honors counselors to discuss completed requirements and find the necessary classes needed for completion of the programs. They also look at the college experience as a whole.
"We want students to think strategically about their time here," Cowles said. "It's not just course advisement; it's advisement for their whole experience."
Beyond the classroom, the honors program sponsors events to foster creative, academic and social interaction. On campus, tea talks give faculty and students a chance to interact and exchange ideas and information.
Students also have access to tickets for off-campus events such as "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at the Shakespeare Theatre or Yo-Yo Ma's performance at the Kennedy Center. The program also produces a monthly newsletter, "Honorable Mentions," to highlight the activities and achievements of the program. Cowles, along with Program Director Michael Mass and honors counselors Tracy Cowart, Paula Malozowski and Saltanat Sulaimanova, work to create an environment students can utilize throughout their four years at AU.
"We want to be a resource for Honors students on campus, a point of information," Cowles said. "We don't want them to get lost in the crowd. They always know they have a place they can turn to"