Frequently Asked Questions
How do I apply?
The Honors program accepts applications only from entering freshmen during their senior year of high school. There are two opportunities to apply for the program: an early application deadline of December 1, 2014 and a final application deadline of March 27, 2015. Admission is offered on a rolling basis. Application forms, deadlines and requirements are available from admissions, the START Center, and the Honors director. Applications can also be downloaded. The program typically starts accepting applications from students in January of the senior year, though we will consider early applicants if a student’s status in Honors helps him or her make a decision about where to attend college. Also see the Honors Calendar for relevant dates and events.
Why should I take Honors courses?
Honors courses challenge a student to become fully engaged in an academic subject matter by participating actively (rather than passively) in a seminar-style classroom setting, questioning one’s own assumptions, and fully exploring topics through a range of different research methods. Because Honors courses are interdisciplinary, they ask professors and students to expand their intellectual scope by making connections across and between disciplines.
Are Honors courses harder or do they require more work than regular courses?
Honors courses are different from other courses because they emphasize primary resources, interdisciplinary approaches, and seminar style teaching. The classes also encourage students to find their own "voice" by examining texts and issues through many different types of writing and speaking exercises. The core seminars cover requirements that students need to satisfy anyway in general Liberal Education (LE) courses.
What is the difference between the Honors certificate and the Honors degree?
Students who complete the 7-course core sequence of LE Honors seminars receive the certificate and will have that achievement noted upon graduation. Students who complete (beyond the 7-course core sequence) 6 more hours of upper-level Honors coursework, maintain the program’s minimum GPA standards, complete 4 semesters (or the equivalent) of college-level study of a single foreign language, and complete a senior project receive the Honors degree upon graduation.
What if I don’t finish the 7-course core sequence before I graduate?
Although the Honors program expects students admitted as freshmen to complete the 7 core courses before they graduate, in certain cases students might not end up fulfilling this requirement. If students find that they will be unable to complete this sequence, they will need to work with the Honors director and registrar to find suitable alternative courses that will fulfill the remaining LE requirements that have gone unsatisfied by the failure to complete the Honors core sequence.
How is my Honors participation recognized on official documents?
Those students who complete the requirements for the Honors certificate program or the Honors degree program receive an Honors certificate suitable for framing and signed by the Honors director and registrar. Transcripts also signify all Honors classes taken. Finally, Honors degree recipients are entitled to wear a double scarlet cord at graduation ceremonies, while Honors certificate graduates wear a combined scarlet/gold cord.
How should I list my Honors participation on my resume or vita?
List the distinction on a separate line by your other academic information as "Successful completion of the college’s interdisciplinary, seven-seminar Honors program curriculum," or a more concise version of that statement. Students want to make sure they distinguish Honors work from just graduating with honors (e.g. cum laude), which anyone can do. As far as letters of recommendations for med school and the like, contact the Honors director for a paragraph of boilerplate language that unfolds all that is important about Honors--especially in the eyes of grad schools. One of your letter writers should employ that language to describe the program.
In what order should I take the Honors seminars and can I take more than one seminar in a term?
First year Honors students must take Humanities I & II in the fall and spring terms of their freshmen year and sometimes pair those courses with another Honors seminar, typically in the spring term. It is not unusual for sophomores to take two Honors seminars at a time. Students should consult the Honors director or other experienced Honors students for suggestions about pairing of seminars.
Do I get Honors credit for my high school AP courses or AP exams?
Honors students do not get Honors credit for AP exams, though individual majors often give elective credit for such achievement (check with the chair of individual departments). Students do receive Westminster general credit hours towards graduation for satisfactory scores on AP exams; such credit will also accelerate a student’s path to upper-class status, which will eventually give him or her priority over fellow classmates without AP credit in registering for classes. While the Honors program encourages students to engage in AP work in high school, since it better prepares them for the Honors seminar experience and such work may give Honors students an advantage in admissions decisions, the program cannot give seminar credit for that work because AP focuses on single disciplines and all Honors seminars are interdisciplinary--there is no equivalency. AP work also tends to emphasize content covered in a particular discipline rather than critical thinking skills, strong oral and written expression strategies, and making connections across disciplines, which is at the core of the Honors seminar experience. (This is one of the reasons that some colleges and high schools are moving away from the AP program.) Students should also know that AP credits often don’t satisfy entrance requirements for graduate study in fields like medicine. Finally, since the seven Honors program seminars allow Honors students to fulfill their LE requirement in only 28 credit hours rather than the standard 43-49 hours typically taken by non-Honors students, Honors students possess more flexibility in scheduling to do double majors, multiple minors, or pursue electives, for example. The vast majority of Honors students enter the program with a significant amount of AP credit on their transcripts.
Can incoming students with Associate Degrees apply to the Honors Program?
Every few years an Associate Degree student will join the incoming Honors class, despite having already satisfied their 43-49 hours of LE because they see great value in the Honors experience and its ability to enhance their educations. If you have an Associate Degree and are trying to complete your Westminster education as quickly as possible, then Honors is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you plan on remaining at the college for 3-4 years and desire the challenge of Honors, then you might consider applying (if your ACT composite score is 26 or higher).
How do I make sure I remain in the Honors program?
Honors students must maintain a 3.00 GPA overall. Students who fall below this minimum standard will be given two probationary semesters to raise their GPAs to this level and ensure continued participation. Students who do not return to that standard after one year will no longer be eligible to take Honors seminars.
What is the Honors Resource library?
The resource library consists of a range of reference materials maintained by the program for the exclusive use of Honors students. The goal is to give Honors students quick and easy access to books they might need to complete class assignments, research graduate schools, prepare for exams like the GRE, MCAT, and LSAT, or succeed in college. Books are available for check out for a period of 48 hours and are located on the third floor of Nunemaker Place, home of the Honors program. Students are encouraged to browse the resource library at any time. If you have specific titles you would like to see added to the resource library, contact the Honors director with the ordering information.
How can I get involved in the Honors Program beyond just taking classes?
The Honors program is much more than just taking seminars. There are leadership opportunities in the Student Honors Council, which meets regularly to discuss ways to improve the Honors experience for students. All Honors students are welcome to participate. There is a regular schedule of visiting speakers who meet specifically with Honors students. The program also encourages and financially supports research by Honors students that might lead to presentation at academic conferences. The Honors program newsletter is always looking for students with interesting stories or students interested in writing features. The Honors peer mentoring program allows upper-class students to help first-year Honors students draw on their experiences and make the transition to college and the Honors program smoother. Contact the Honors director for information about these and other activities or click here for more ideas. Get involved!
Do I have to be in the Honors Program to take Honors courses?
Although only students admitted to the Honors program can take the seven LE core Honors seminars, any undergraduate in good standing with a 3.5 GPA or higher is eligible to enroll in the 300 and 400 level special topics Honors seminars. The Honors Program is an active part of the larger college community and welcomes the energy, intellect, and diversity that students bring to Honors from different disciplines across campus.