The UHP: Now Taking Rising Sophomores

24 Jan

Starting this semester, the University Honors Program is able to accept a very small group of exceptionally qualified rising sophomores (second-semester freshmen) into the Honors Program.  It’s a pretty significant change, so I’ll lay it all out here:

When/where/and how can a student apply?
Applications are available in the UHP office (714 21st St), and the deadline for application this year is February 25th, 2011.

How many current students will be accepted?
Only 15 — maximum.  That’s really all the room we have for new students, and that’s all that will fit in the special course they’ll be required to take.  Because this number is so low, we expect the application process to be quite competitive.  The Honors Program is exclusive by design and necessity, and while it might seem harsh, there’s simply not room for more than 15.

What will the Honors requirements be for internally admitted students?  Will they be different than what other Honors students have?
Students accepted into the UHP at the start of their sophomore year will have all the same requirements as other Honors students with sophomore status for their year, with one exception.  Students admitted to the program after freshman year will be required to take a specially designed, intensive course to enable them to engage fully in the upper level Honors courses their peers will be taking.  This course will meet during the fall semester of their sophomore year, and the days and times of this course are listed on the application.

Why now?
The reason for the decision can be broken down into three parts:  logistical ability and program goals, student interest, and faculty and staff enthusiasm.

Recent changes in the flexibility of the curriculum allow enough room in scheduling for students to actually meet our requirements if they enter sophomore year.  Additionally, a new, intensive course was created especially for these students — internal admits will be required to take this course during their sophomore year.

The Honors Program has heard quite a lot from students (and their parents!) disappointed that they missed their opportunity to apply.  Additionally, it was impossible for any transfer students to enter the program.  We frequently hear from faculty who find students they believe would be a good fit for the program — a lot of the time, they’re right!   Accepting rising sophomores means we can continue to develop the Honors community beyond just those who were selected freshman year.  Many students don’t fully understand the Honors Program (or what they want out of college) until they get here.  Now they won’t have to miss out on the opportunity to be a part of our community, and we wont’ miss out on their contributions.

I’ve got more questions…
Use the comments on this post!  I’ll be sure to get back to you here to help clarify.

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3 Responses to “The UHP: Now Taking Rising Sophomores”

  1. Senior Guinea Pig January 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    Guess enough people have fled the program that you need to try to trick unwitting new kids into it…

    • theuhp January 25, 2011 at 4:50 pm #

      Actually, Mr. Pig, the UHP has had really low attrition rates for the past few years, and our rates are in line with GWU at large. We lose some students due to them leaving the University or just the Program, and we lose some students because they fail to meet UHP requirements. Sophomore admission does help to replenish class size, but it does more than that — and that’s not the primary reason we accept current students into the program.

      The last time sophomore admission was available for the UHP (pre-2008), we actually found that those later-admitted students thrived quite well, and had strong commitments to the UHP. They appear to have been less likely to drop out of the program early compared to students who entered as freshmen. We believe this was because students who entered the program as sophomores were more likely to have taken time to consider what the program actually had to offer them, and were less likely to apply simply for the word “Honors.” Far from being “tricked” into joining, sophomore admits tend to be very well informed of what the the Honors Program is, and isn’t.

      • Senior Guinea Pig January 31, 2011 at 2:34 pm #

        Your story is entirely plausible; however, you would be remiss to neglect the fact that highly intelligent and capable students despise the program, sometimes performing poorly as a result. As a program which acts as a facility by which the most capable students at GW can excel and challenge themselves, the Honors Program completely misses the mark.

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