University of Iowa
Deadlines
  • Apply for admission to the University of Iowa by November 1 (to meet the first honors application deadline of November 15) or by January 15 (to meet the final honors application deadline of February 1).
    The honors program application becomes available on your Admissions Profile within about a week of being admitted to the university. You will not be able to access the honors application without having first been admitted to the university.
  • Complete the honors application by November 15 to receive a decision by February 1. Complete the honors application by February 1 to receive a decision by March 1.
    Yes, November 16 is after November 15, so applications received on or after November 16 will result in a decision after February 1 and by March 1.
Application Materials
  • You must have an unofficial transcript in PDF format that you yourself will upload into the honors application.
    Do not have your high school send a transcript on your behalf for the purposes of the honors application. If a transcript has already been sent to the university for other purposes, we still need you to upload a PDF version into the honors application. You will not be able to submit an application without a transcript file attached.
  • Obtain a copy of your high school transcript at least two to three weeks before the application deadline.
    Your high school's process may require more (or less) than two to three weeks, but we recommend that you double-check to make sure you know how long it may take to secure a copy of your transcript that you can upload into your application.
  • Your essay will also be uploaded as a PDF.
    Draft your essay in your program of choice, then save as a PDF. If you are unsure of how to convert the document into a PDF, the search engine of your choice is your friend! Or, contact the honors program and we'll try to help you out.
Writing the essay

2018 prompt: Tell us about an idea you cannot stop thinking about. Why is it so engrossing to you?

  • Answer the question.
    This may seem like an obvious one, but we receive a lot of thoughtful, well-written responses to questions we have not asked. As much as we may appreciate the insight or perspective shared in a rogue essay, we do not advance the application to the next stage.
  • No need to restate the question.
    Lately we have noticed that many students are restating the essay question instead of constructing a thesis sentence which frames the discussion they wish to have with their readers. At this point in their development as writers and thinkers, we can and do expect more from applicants.
  • Stay away from absolutes.
    Words like "always", "never", and "impossible" tend to kick a reader's inner Devil's Advocate into gear. When we read them, we can always think of an example of when your assertion is NOT true. If you do not employ these inflexible words, you may avoid triggering a reviewer's inner debate champion!
  • Plagiarism - just don't.
    Plagiarism is pretty easy to spot, and we are surprised at how often we do. Beyond what we hope are obvious ethical concerns, it will be difficult to introduce yourself or your ideas to us effectively if you are using someone else's words, so don't do it. We want to hear from YOU.
  • Try to enjoy it! (No, really!)
    Believe it or not, we do not ask for an essay just to see what we can get you to do, or because everyone else is doing it. We hope the essay can be an outlet for you to explore something you truly love or a chance to take some time to think about what makes you tick, as well as a tool for us just to get to know you better. Don't worry about proving anything to us, other than the fact that you sometimes have some thoughts about some thing that you find engrossing (and perhaps that you have proofread your writing prior to submission).

To that end, our professional and student staffs did some thinking about what we would write about if given this prompt. Examples include: the importance and value of libraries; temperature blankets; identical twins who are split at birth and what they can teach us about nature vs. nurture; and pineapple.

Completing the activities section

In this section, you have the opportunity to share up to 10 of the most meaningful extracurricular activities your were engaged in from ninth grade to the present. You will be able to provide a more detailed description of three of those experiences.

  • Follow the instructions.
    Sensing a theme? Again, this might seem like it would be common sense, but we know this is probably not the only application you'll complete this year and it's easy to run on autopilot. Read the instructions carefully, then follow them. We thought about them a lot, and we think they'll help you introduce yourself to us in the most effective way for this process.
  • Don't limit yourself to school-sanctioned organizations if that isn't where you spend all your time.
    Are you employed? Do you have a time-consuming hobby? Maybe you have significant caregiving responsibilities at home or volunteer your time in ways that don't give you a traditional label of "volunteer". Think carefully about how you spend your time, and then tell us about the meaningful (to you) stuff, no matter where, when, or how it happens.
  • Think carefully about what you would like to highlight.
    You'll have the opportunity to list up to ten activities, but you get to provide a fuller description of only three of those. Please choose three activities that are truly meaningful to you. Don't choose the ones you think we want to see (you just might be wrong). Don't choose the ones that extrinsic feedback tells you are valuable. Choose the three that will help us get to know you.
  • Use acronyms and abbreviations carefully.
    We can probably figure out what it means if you said you were the VP of a group, but other acronyms and abbreviations can be locally or regionally specific. You might want to spell things out for us.