Not Your Typical Honors College: A Look at APU's Honors Experience

by Heather Nelson

It’s time to say goodbye to the stuffy, stale, and superficial honors experience of old. While a college honors program should prepare virtuous leaders for the real world, there isn’t only one way of doing so.

At Azusa Pacific University’s Honors College, students are taught in small, discussion-based classes that utilize the Great Works of literature, art, philosophy, and theology—no exams or secondary textbooks required. This highly collaborative Honors College is a tight-knit community of scholars who learn how to make a difference alongside their peers and professors.

Here’s everything you need to know to encourage your soon-to-be college student to consider taking part in a unique, modern honors program.

What Sets APU Apart

When students have shown a strong desire to engage at a deeper level in the learning process and transform the lives of those around them, they are often less engaged by traditional teaching methods, such as exams and busywork.

At APU’s Honors College, the emphasis isn’t simply on knowing, but discovering. In small group settings, students engage with the Great Works and each other to find knowledge and understanding. Being “fed” facts and information isn’t part of this learning process. Instead, the program’s high-impact practices foster stronger student engagement and improve learning.

The program is committed to using researched and proven means of engaging students’ intellect. As David Weeks, Ph.D., dean of the Honors College, describes, the program boasts “[an] interconnected curriculum, a strong first-year experience, engagement with life’s big questions, rigorous writing-intensive classes, flipped classrooms, and a capstone experience.”

A Modern Day Honors Program Can Take Students Far

Students with a passion for learning and leading will thrive in an environment that embraces originial texts and a collaborative classroom experience. According to Weeks, the college “is meant to develop and grow exceptional students who will move into their chosen fields as critically thinking, compassionate, high-level leaders.”

This means small, discussion-based classes and supportive peers and professors who devote time and attention to helping each student grow and succeed. Every student is treated as an individual who has a high capacity to learn and a great deal to offer the world.

To prepare students for their chosen careers and fields of study, the college encourages its students to double major (General Education courses are waived). This enables students to apply the critical thinking and leadership skills they gain through the Honors Humanities major to careers such as medicine, biology, and education, among others.

Is Your Child a Good Fit?

If your high-achieving student aspires to become a worthy leader, grow in virtue, and deepen their faith, then APU’s Honors College is worth visiting first-hand. During your campus visit, request time to meet with an Honors College professor and visit a class. This will provide great insight into what it is like to be a part of the program.

Lastly, remind your child—who’s likely accustomed to high school honors classes—that a modern honors program is nothing like anything he or she has experienced before. In fact, APU’s Honors College is an ideal place for students who answer “yes” to the following questions:

  • Are you fascinated with new ideas?

  • Do you enjoy spirited conversations?

  • Do you crave challenge and hunger to learn?

  • Do you long to become wiser, more virtuous, and more eloquent?

  • Do you desire to love God with your mind as well as your heart and soul?

  • Do you like to read and write?

  • Do you aspire to stir the hearts and minds of your generation?

Sit down with these questions in hand, and talk with your child about considering this unique and transformational college experience.