Every summer for the past 31 years, academic top achievers from Texas high schools have spent a weekend at the Honors Colloquium at the University of Texas at Austin. This unique tool in the college search process shows high school seniors from Texas the enormous range that UT Austin offers: world-class research, seminars with faculty who have been recognized for their commitment to teaching, and guidance from college students who are themselves academically gifted. This weekend, 575 rising high school seniors will arrive at Jester Center to begin their weekend at UT Austin.
The three-day event is by invitation only. Activities introduce UT Austin’s academic excellence. Top research faculty lecture and open their laboratories to tours and campus libraries and museums offer special access to Colloquists. Faculty members committed to teaching and mentoring students lead small seminar discussions. Students also experience residential campus life first-hand: they stay in Jester Center and spend most of their time on campus with a small cohort of other colloquists. Divya Ramamoorthy, a former Colloquist who will mentor a group this year, recalls “sitting with newly met friends in a Jester lobby the summer before my senior year…. I had no idea then that the University of Texas at Austin would be my home for the next four years—and even now…I am only beginning to realize how lucky I am to be here.”
Faculty from every discipline lead sessions so that students can experience how challenging and engaging UT academics are. This year, students can conduct field research at the Brackenridge Field Laboratory; discuss magical thinking among children with a tenured Psychology professor; and explore plasma made of freely floating electrons at the Helimak Laboratory.
Students choose from:
- 71 small seminar discussions led by top teaching and research faculty
- 12 luncheons where students learn more about desired fields of study within particular colleges and schools
- 7 lectures by world-class researchers on everything from the physiology and psychology of music to mathematical concepts of infinity.
Impact on Prospective Students
According to a 2012 survey, 28% of Colloquium attendees rated themselves as being extremely interested in UT prior to Colloquium. After attending, 61% rated themselves as extremely interested.
92% of all 2012 Honors Colloquium attendees applied to UT, as compared with 60% of students who were invited and did not attend Colloquium.
90% of students agreed or strongly agreed that the Honors Colloquium helped them explore college options.
Elyssa Klann, a Plan II & Psychology senior, explained what about mentoring she is looking forward to: the students. “Just meeting all those students, taking them in and showing them that they could have a place here. There are so many things here for them… so many ways to make the university to feel smaller. Whatever their backgrounds may be or wherever they’re coming from, UT has a place for them.”
Students come primarily from Texas high schools, but selected out-of-state schools are also represented. Many participants will eventually be named National Merit, National Achievement, or National Hispanic Finalists and Scholars, and compete for the university’s honor programs. Most students invited to participate are identified using data provided by the Student Search Service of the CollegeBoard.