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FAQs about the Austin E. Knowlton Honors Program

Who joins the honors program?

Less than 10% of each incoming class is invited to participate in First-Year Honors. In FYH, you will connect and engage with highly motivated students and mentors, a select group who are passionate about learning. FYH is designed for students who already have a strong foundation in writing and reading, and a strong interest in discussing ideas. 

Why would I be interested?

The program attracts mature, focused students. Your professors will assume you already write well, and they will help you improve your writing on specific topics. They work to create interesting and intense classes energized by a special sense of community. FYH professors also serve as academic advisors to honors students, and get to know their students well.

Enrolling in FYH and earning a B+ or higher in the first semester FYH course guarantees a spot in the competitive-entry Interdisciplinary Honors Minor, if you choose to enroll in the minor.

Completing FYH courses and/or the Interdisciplinary Honors Minor stands out on a résumé, whether you are applying to graduate schools or looking to impress employers in your career field. 

Is it a lot of extra work?

Honors students choose to be in the program because they enjoy reading and writing, and discussing ideas in depth. The work is different from the FYI classes. Students need to come prepared for dialogue, and can expect more reading and writing than in FYI.

The texts also may be more challenging, but if you are admitted to the program, you are ready for the extra challenge. Current readings include, among others, The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, White Like Me by Tim Wise, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz, and Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

What does it mean to be interdisciplinary?

Every Augustana student graduates with at least one major in an academic discipline or field of study—sometimes two or three. But ideas themselves aren’t restricted to any one discipline, and the most interesting ideas can influence many disciplines. Augustana’s honors classes integrate ideas from several disciplines in their course materials and discussions, and the honors professors come from academic programs across the arts and sciences. 

Is there special housing for honors students?

No – which has its advantages! Augustana students are allowed to choose their roommates, or pair with a roommate with similar profile on the housing selection form. You will be in first-year peer groups and an FYH class each semester with other honors students, so you will be spending a lot of time with your honors peers. 

Can I get more scholarship money if I am in the honors program?

There is no financial incentive to be a part of this program. It is a special academic opportunity for high-achieving students. 

What if I change my mind after the honors interview?

Sometimes going through the interview process helps students realize that First-Year Honors is not a good fit. You can decline your spot in the program, if offered. 

What if I come to Augustana and then decide I want to be in honors classes?

You may still pursue the Interdisciplinary Honors Minor if you earn a B+ or higher after one semester in FYI, submit a writing sample, and go through an interview process. The minor includes five 4-credit classes, all of which fulfill graduation requirements. 

Do I have to continue with the honors minor if I am in FYH my first year?

As with any other choice of major or minor, it’s completely up to you! But students often do want to continue the opportunities offered in the honors program: very small class sizes, discussion with other students excited about the topics, and extra attention from your professors. The classes in the Interdisciplinary Honors Minor fulfill graduation requirements, so they aren’t “additional” classes you have to take on top of other requirements.  

Can international students participate in First-Year Honors?

Yes, all students are welcome into the honors program. Students can register here for a phone or Skype interview.

Why do I need to interview to get in?

The interview helps you to learn more about the program and decide whether it’s a good fit for you. Professors who interview are also looking for fit; we want all of our students be successful here. 

What is the interview like?

Interviews are friendly and relaxed. They typically last about 30 minutes and involve discussion on what you like to read, write and think about.

Most often they are group interviews: you and one or two other prospective honors students have a conversation with a professor who teaches in the program. Occasionally, students have a one-on-one interview on campus with a professor. If you live more than five hours from campus, you also have an option to interview by phone or Skype.

When will I know if I am admitted to the First-Year Honors program?

You will be notified no later than April 25, and likely earlier if you have an early interview date.