How to Apply

Apply here before January 23. Register now for our November 14 (7pm) or January 11 (7pm) virtual preview events.

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Application Requirements (Due January 23)

  • Background. The only minimum requirement to apply to either the Schedler Honors College or the University Scholars Program is a 3.50 high school GPA. Standardized test scores are not calculated into the student’s score for admission (see details below). The student’s class rank is a factor in admission. If no class rank is available from the high school, an algorithm will be used to assign scores in the rank category based on the student’s GPA compared to that of the students in the applicant pool.
  • Recommendations. The application asks for background information that should take no more than 15 minutes to provide, as well as the name and e-mail contact of one or two recommenders. Students applying for either the Schedler Honors College or the University Scholars Program will be required to submit an academic recommendation. For your academic recommendation, be sure to select a teacher or counselor that is familiar with your academic record and who will be able to intelligently evaluate you on all of the following characteristics: intellectual ability, motivation, maturity, oral and written communication skills, analytic ability, and creativity. If applying for the Schedler Honors College only, and do not wish to be considered for the University Scholars Program, you will also be asked to provide a second service and leadership recommendation. For your service and leadership recommendation, be sure to select a teacher, counselor, or other professional that is familiar with your experience with service and leadership and will be able to evaluate you on the following characteristics: leadership, initiative, originality, integrity, empathy, openness, and collaboration. We will contact your recommender(s) with information about how to complete a recommendation form on our website. In order to submit your application, you must have entered the names and email address of your reference(s), but a short grace period will be granted after the deadline for your references to be completed, so you can submit the application prior to those being complete.  We encourage you to speak with your reference(s) prior to listing them and to follow up with them immediately after initiating the reference form being sent to be sure they are getting the request form. This will help identify if there has been an issue with the automated form getting through the school’s firewall well before the deadline.
  • Essays. Applicants of to the Schedler Honors College will be asked to provide two essays, applicants to the University Scholars Program will write one. In the first, required for both applications,we ask you to read an essay by Peter Elbow and respond to it in 600-800 words based on a prompt we provide.  It is very important that you conduct research about the Schedler Honors College or University Scholars Program at UCA before writing this essay. We want to see evidence that you have some understanding of our curriculum and our orientation to public concern. In the second writing sample, required only of Schedler Honors College applicants you will address an issue of public service in 400-600 words. For both essays, write them offline. Take your time. Research, write a draft, get reviews, revise it, and carry out that process more than once. When you have the best draft you can produce, paste it to the webform. These writing samples carry a great deal of weight in our admission process. In completing the required academic essay, you will already have met the requirements for applying to the University Scholars Program, so consider researching that program and selecting the option to be considered for both in the application.
  • Complete Application to UCA. For high school applicants, you should have submitted all items required for university admission to the UCA Office of Admissions no later than January 23. Please note that you will be required to provide your UCA student ID in order to complete your Schedler Honors College or University Scholars Program application. UCA Admissions will issue your ID once you have been admitted. We will use this information to verify ACT, GPA, and Class Rank for high school applicants. You may work on your application prior to being admitted to UCA, but we will not review the application until all supplemental items are received by the university and your admission to UCA is confirmed.

Application Review and Scoring

The review of application materials begins in January for incoming freshmen. Once the application, recommendation, admission verification, and transcript data are received, your application will be given consideration by a committee of honors faculty and administrators.

Step 1. The first step is to review your academic record and recommendation based on the transcript data you submitted for admission to UCA. For the Schedler Honors College, your prior academic record (GPA, class rank, and letters of recommendation) is worth 50% of your overall score, and for the University Scholars Program, it is weighted more heavily at 76% of your overall score.


Step 2. In the second step an honors faculty member will read and score the essay(s) you submitted. Once scored, the faculty member will make a recommendation—based solely on your writing—whether to further consider your application in full. The essay(s) will be scored on the following criteria:

Elbow Essay (Both Programs)

  1. Shows understanding of purpose
  2. Shows understanding and appreciation of main parts of argument
  3. Provides and analyzes effective example
  4. Demonstrates clear and original thinking

Civic Service Essay (Schedler Honors College Only)

  1. Shows understanding of Honors College purpose
  2. Demonstrates clear, original thinking
  3. Connects goals to honors education
  4. Demonstrates potential for reflective civic action


  1. Mechanically and syntactically sound
  2. Strong and coherent sentences and paragraphs
  3. Use of specific details and examples
  4. Overall flow and organization

Step 3. In the third step the Dean and Associate Dean read every essay as well as review the academic record. Taking into account the faculty member’s recommendation as well as the student’s overall score, they reach a consensus about whom to invite to interview for those that applied to the Schedler Honors College. Review of applications of students who applied only to the University Scholars Program is paused until a later step in our process.

Step 4. If you applied to the Schedler Honors College and are selected for an interview, you will be part of the fourth step; you and your parents will visit us for an Inform and Interview Day (I2 Day). You will choose from one of two or three dates to be held in February. Activities on this day introduce you to our program and provide an inside look at its operation. You and your parents will learn about the academic, residential, and financial opportunities for those admitted to the Schedler Honors College. You will also have a chance to visit with current students about their experiences in the program.

You will listen to a large-group lecture, be asked to complete a quick, on-site writing assignment , and then with three or four other candidates participate in a small-group discussion led by a Schedler Honors College faculty member. This process is modeled after our freshman seminar course (which meets once per week in large group and twice weekly in small group seminars). We aim to give you a good feel for the experience of being in an Honors class. Your participation in the small group discussion will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  1. Engagement
  2. Interest
  3. Enthusiasm
  4. Resourcefulness
  5. Adventurousness
  6. Communication
  7. Collaboration
  8. Professionalism

Step 5. Once each I2 Day has been held, the faculty will examine scores of all participants and will select 80 students to invite into the Schedler Honors College. Any student not given an initial offer to join the Schedler Honors College, and who indicated interest in the University Scholars Program, will be considered alongside those who applied only to the University Scholars Program. The faculty will select 40 students to invite into the University Scholars Program.  The selection in both processes will take into account your scores in each of the categories described above. The evaluation will also generate a rank-ordered waiting list. You will hear from the Schedler Honors College and the University Scholars Program by March 1. That notification will make plain whether you are being offered admission to either program, being put on a waiting list, or are no longer being considered for admission. If you are offered admission, you will be asked to confirm your acceptance to the Schedler Honors College or University Scholars Program no later than April 1.