EMU’s Honors program is in the middle of an important adjustment. Any first-year student who finishes his or her first year with a GPA of 3.7 or higher is eligible to participate in the new Honors curriculum and Honors program. This new curriculum does not require first-year students to have applied for the program before coming to EMU.
According to Mark Metzler Sawin, Director of the Honors Program, “[The program] is in ‘pilot’ stage right now, where we’ll be trying it out for a year, tweaking it a bit, and then finalizing it in the next year or two.”
The new Honors curriculum is primarily like declaring a minor. The program will involve 18 semester hours of coursework. Being a part of the Honors program has no bearing on a student’s financial aid. Students keep their Honors scholarships whether or not they participate in the program, provided they maintain a 3.5 GPA.
To quote the pilot Honors Curriculum, “Historically it has been a program tied largely to high school merit—a program that awarded large scholarships and tied those scholarships to a 9-hour curriculum.”
The new curriculum will focus not just on the honors achieved for high school, but also on students who “prove during their first year at EMU that they are capable of doing Honors work.”
To apply, students will need a letter of recommendation from a faculty member who is willing to advise and work with them as a mentor. Also, students will need a resumé outlining active involvement and accomplishments completed during their first year at EMU.
High school honors and activities may be included, but the focus will be on the activities of the last year. All application materials are due by May 15 to be reviewed by the Honors Faculty.
“This program is purely voluntary,” said Metzler. “[It is a] program for people who would like a more challenging and rigorous curriculum and who would like to graduate with Honors.”
Only current first-years are eligible to join the new program, said Metzler, “and those first-year students who came in with any type of Honors scholarship have the choice of whether or not to join the new program.”
“I think I am unsure about whether I will do the new one or not,” said First-Year Zach Zook. “[However,] I think the changes make for a great new foundation [for] an excellent Honors program.”
As of now, there is no system set up for transfer students, but EMU plans to work with Hesston College to create a “pre-Honors” system.
The Honors program is not a scholarship. Scholarships will continue to be awarded as part of the student’s initial application as a first-year.
Although some parts of the program are already in place, such as the first-year class, “Ruling Ideas,” and the capstone, “World View Seminar,” other parts are still in the process of being developed.