When I first started my college search, I knew I wanted a learning environment that fostered my love of and passion for learning. In high school, we had a wide variety of honors, Advanced Placement, and dual-enrollment courses at our disposal. Although the content provided more in-depth information to the students whose passions were in those areas. The problem of attending a small high school was that only a select number of AP and other advanced courses were available once a year. If your classes required for graduation (like physical education, art, wellness, etc.) had to take precedent over taking an AP course, then you either rearranged your schedule completely, which took a lot of time, effort, and pleading with the guidance counselors, or you had to wait until the next year to take it. Because the classes were offered just once a year, they were usually the biggest classes I had. I feel like a class of less than ten students is a perfect learning environment; I often become overwhelmed in a class of thirty or so students. When looking at college options, small classes were absolutely necessary, but I also wanted to take advanced courses to satisfy my love for learning. Almost every other college I considered either did not offer advanced classes, or those classes were just as big if not even bigger than my high school classes. I knew the college I was going to go to had to have the class size I wanted with the passion for learning that I did. Once I found out that LMU had an honors program, I knew I had to apply.
The process was certainly less painful than I expected; it was one of the easiest application processes I’ve ever been through. Applicants were expected to send in an application that included their basic information, a teacher recommendation, and a resume with academic honors, extra curricular activities, and other similar information. In early February, the interviewing process began. My parents and I made the trek up to LMU from Knoxville early one morning and went to the Business Education building. There, we were given our individual schedules that told us what time slots our interviews were going to take place in. I’m the kind of person who likes to show up incredibly early to anything, so we waited in the lecture room while the other applicants slowly filed in. Once everyone had arrived, Dr. Hilberg, the director of the Honors Program, talked to us about the program. He said that in the program the students would be exposed to a learning environment that emphasized both breadth and depth in every honors course we took. What Dr. Hilberg and some of the current students said was almost too good to be true! I remember looking over at my parents and smiling and nodding as if to say, “Yes! I’m loving the sound of this!”
The next part of the day included two interviews. We drove back to the student center and went to the third floor to wait my turn. Those few minutes were absolutely nerve wracking! When my name was called, I was taken into an office with two women who asked me a wide array of questions. Everything from what my favorite book was to what I could bring to the LMU community was up for discussion. Once that interview concluded, we walked over to Dishner 104, which is located on the first floor of Dishner, one of the residence halls that houses Dr. Hilberg’s office as well as the Residential Life office. This place would quickly come to be very familiar to me and the other honors students. This was where my final interview with Dr. Hilberg took place. It actually felt more like a conversation than an interview and was a great way to end the application process. At the end of it all, I wondered why I had been so nervous in the first place. The only thing left to do was wait to see if I was accepted into the program. The very moment I got my acceptance letter, I was ready to commit to LMU!
Although I am only a few months into it , the LMU honors program offers the options of a large school but the feel of a small one. I’ve already made so many friends because of the program. On August 18th, the day before our first day of classes, all of the old and new students to the program met in Dishner 104 to get to know each other better. Even though it started raining right after our meeting, we went out to the quad and played icebreakers. After the icebreakers the other freshmen and I sat around and talked for a few hours. Just within that short amount of time I felt like I had known these people for so long. It sounds cliche, but I felt like I belonged there. I still feel like I do.
While the social aspect is beyond what I could have wished for, the main focus of the program is, of course, academics. LMU offers honors courses in biology, chemistry, philosophy, history, and other subjects. In these classes we know that we are going to be pushed, but we aren’t afraid of that. We have to work harder than we probably had to in high school, but that’s the kind of thing we enjoy. There is no such thing as “busy work”: everything we do and that our professors do has a distinct purpose. Because the classes are smaller than non-honors courses, it is much easier for me to get to know my classmates and my professors. I am currently taking three honors courses: world history, chemistry and chemistry lab. I am excited for the classes I will get to take and the professors I will meet in the future!
If you have any questions about the honors program or want to learn more about what we do, feel free to visit LMU’s Honors Program website or email me! If you would like to be considered for the next academic year, applications are due February 1st for fall semester and October 1st for spring semester.