Charlie Turner

With a completely revamped honors program ready to launch next fall, Miami University is seeing a significant rise in the number of honors applicants.

Though only one deadline for honors applications has passed, the Honors and Scholars program-soon to be just the honors program as of fall 2009-has reported a 20 percent rise in the number of applicants compared with last year.

Kristy Burton, associate director for enrollment in the Honors and Scholars program said that although the increase may merely reflect a higher number of applicants applying early, Miami has been boosting its efforts to appeal to high profile students.

“We used more of a personalized communication system and they received more contact from us,” Burton said. “By us ramping up our recruitment efforts, hopefully we can ramp up the profile of students applying to Miami.”

Currently, Miami has about 1,000 honors students and about 800 in the scholars program across all four years. For the incoming first-year class, the university has 400 available honors spots, Burton said.

Kari Taylor, associate director for student development in the Honors and Scholars program, said because Miami plans to discontinue the scholars program, the size of the incoming honors class would not put a strain on the department.

Under the new honors program, honors students will be exempt from taking Miami Plan courses and will instead fulfill those objectives with “honors experiences.”

According to Burton, honors experiences will include study-abroad programs, research, independent studies and leadership positions in campus organizations.

“You could actually have a study-abroad, which you would usually do outside your Miami Plan, (but) study abroad for honors students can actually count towards their Miami Plan requirements,” Burton said.

To receive credit for honors experiences, students will be required to meet with their advisor on an annual basis and submit a portfolio outlining how their extracurricular experiences have fulfilled the traditional objectives of the Miami Plan. Taylor said that these portfolios could vary but would likely consist of some kind of work sample or description of what the student accomplished.

Jerry Stonewater, director of liberal education, said such a personalized Miami Plan will only be available for honors students and there has been no talk of expanding it to the larger student body.

In anticipation of an expanding, the honors program recently hired three advisers who will work on a one-on-one basis with honors students to guide them through their tenure at Miami.

“We define advising very broadly, so we start with a student’s learning goals and what they hope to learn from their college experience,” Taylor said.

Current honors students will have their choice of which program to pursue.