On July 23rd, nearly 600 rising high school seniors sang “The Eyes of Texas” in a closing ceremony marking the completion of the 30th annual Honors Colloquium. Many of these students, the high achievers from high schools all over Texas, will enroll in first-year honors programs and compete for UT Austin’s most prestigious scholarships. In 2010, nearly half of the Forty Acres Scholars were Colloquium participants.
Many of the 8,397 Colloquium participants who enrolled at UT Austin would not have gone to Texas if not for Honors Colloquium. Recent Plan II and Linguistics graduate Dylan Bumford attended the Honors Colloquium as a high school student, then came back to mentor as a college student. He says,
It was the first time I walked freely around a campus and the first time I got completely lost on a campus. It was the first time I tried to keep the thirty kids I was meeting each day straight in my head, not realizing they were trying to do the same. It was the first time I ever heard a lecture from someone who had actually conducted pioneering research in the field he was explaining. I remember thinking for the first time that I had an idea of what it was going to be like to go to college.
Perhaps what is more important is that I met kids who really were in college, not adults who did it thirty years ago, and not characters in terrible movies. I was intimidated by most of them, naturally, but I stuck close to a few and discovered that they were actually fun, laid-back, and not bored out of their minds as I’d assumed they would be. I remember playing Balderdash with a couple of friends and four or five of the Mentors at two in the morning, carefully eschewing any of the game’s rules that might have stifled our creativity, and having a great time.
Dylan recently won the grand prize of the George H. Mitchell Student Awards for Academic Excellence.
What is the Colloquium?
The Honors Colloquium connects academically talented high school Texans to the University of Texas at Austin by introducing them to UT’s high standards for excellence in teaching, research, and public service. Every summer since 1982, promising young scholars arrive on campus for a three-day stay. They come away with a feel for the intellectual experience that UT provides, and with the special excitement of having been on campus and in Austin.
The chance to take college-level courses with some of UT’s finest faculty makes the experience unique among the many recruiting events around the country. Students meet with representatives of each college and school at small luncheons, and visit UT treasures like the Ransom Center, the Pettawat Laser, and the Blanton. Current students and staff work as mentors who guide visiting students during their weekend at UT.
The 2010 colloquium featured
- 68 faculty-led class sessions
- 13 college and school lunches
- 11 UT Treasures tours
- 6 UT information sessions
- One program for parents and families
Surveys over the last four years show that over 60% of those students attending Colloquium rate themselves as being extremely interested in UT after Colloquium. By comparison, before arriving on campus, approximately 26% rate themselves as being extremely interested in UT.
90% of respondents agreed that Colloquium helped them explore their college options.
Over 88% of all Colloquium attendees apply to the university, and of those admitted, 96% enroll.
Over 61% of colloquists apply to one of the first-year honors programs, compared to 24% for non-attendees.