The honors program application is available on your Admissions Profile. You will not be able to access the honors application without having first been admitted to the university. For Fall 2023, applications are due the first week of January 2023. If you do not see the Honors application, email the admissions team at 

    Application Materials

    Technical issues can happen. Plan ahead. Give yourself at least a few days in advance to prepare and submit your materials. You never know when you'll experience technical difficulties.

    Icon of a resume

    Unofficial transcript and senior year courses

    Black lines with a pencil on the right.

    A PDF version of your essay

    An icon of a person from the torso up.

    Extenuating Circumstances (optional)

    A black plus sign.


    More Details

    You must have an unofficial transcript in PDF format that you, yourself, will upload into the honors application.

    Don't have your high school send an official transcript on your behalf. If you or your school have already sent a transcript to the university for other purposes, we still need you to upload a PDF version for your honors application.

    Obtain a copy of your high school transcript at least two to three weeks before the application deadline.

    It may take up to two to three weeks to get a copy of your unofficial transcript. Double-check to make sure how long it may take to get your unofficial transcript. You may have immediate access to your unofficial version.  

    You need to include your senior year classes.

    If your unofficial transcript does not include your senior year class schedule, upload an additional pdf of your entire senior year class schedule.

    Your essay will also be uploaded as a PDF.

    Draft your essay in your program of choice, then save it 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. 

    You can submit an extenuating circumstances statement.

    Are there any extenuating circumstances that have impacted your time and/or performance in high school that you would like known/considered? Through this optional  statement, you can share with us relevant pieces of your history that aren't told through the rest of your application that have had an impact on  your application materials.

    This includes, but is not limited to: health issues that affected grades for a specific period of time, family or community events that negatively affected your academic performance or ability to engage in activities. This doesn't need to be a formal essay - just let us know what's going on. If this part of the application is used to upload a resume or what appears to be a college admissions essay written on a prompt other than what we've requested, that information will be disregarded.

    Essay Prompt

    2023-24: What is something about which you have changed your mind? How and why? What resulted and what did you learn?

    Essay Writing Tips

    Answer the question.

    This may seem like an obvious one, but we sometimes receive responses to questions we have not asked. (I.e. making a decision is not the same as changing your mind.)

    Use the space you are given.

    We ask for a maximum of 750 words, but have not specified a minimum. While we see great essays at a variety of lengths, students who reach less than two thirds of the maximum words typically have not engaged with the essay prompt in a way that helps us get to know them. 

    Remember that we want to get to know you.

    In reviewing your essay before submission, ask yourself 'could this essay be written only by myself or could it have been written by anyone?' We are not looking for anything in particular when we read your application except getting to know you as a person. Be genuine. The essay should reflect what you want to write, not what you think we want to hear. Clearly state your topic and explain why and how you changed your mind. Successful responses will name and address the value of any identified forces, as well as how they influence(d) your attitude and thoughts, behavior, and choices.

    No really, what makes this essay unique is you.

    Self-reflection is a large component of the Honors Program. We will be looking for some reflection in your essay. This has the dual benefit of making the essay truly, uniquely yours. Another cannot author your self-reflection. 

    Stay away from absolutes.

    Avoid words like "always", "never", and "no one/everyone." They can kill an otherwise sound argument and potentially divert the reader’s focus from the topic at hand to finding the exceptions, often weakening important and well-informed points.

    Do not conclude by pandering.

    Your conclusion does not need an explicit statement along the lines of "And this is why I'm looking forward to all the opportunities in the honors program" or "And that's why I'm excited to be a Hawkeye". It's great that you're excited to join our community, but we take your engagement with the application, as it's written (i.e. follow the instructions), as your statement of interest.

    Enjoy it! (No, really!)

    Believe it or not, we do not ask for an essay just to make you write. We hope the essay can be an outlet for you to explore your own mind. Don't worry about proving anything to us, other than the fact that you are human - There is no right answer! Dig deep and have fun.

    Some additional points to consider as you respond to the prompt:

    • What happened to make you change your mind about something? 

    • What was the catalyst for change? Was it sudden or over time?

    • How has this impacted you personally, socially, and perhaps academically?

    Lastly, proofread!

    Revise! When you think you are done, revise once more!

    Completing the Activities Section

    In this section, you have the opportunity to share four (4) of the most meaningful extracurricular activities you were engaged in at some point during ninth grade to the present. We highly encourage you to provide a detailed description of those experiences. These descriptions should talk about what about this extracurricular activity was meaningful or important to you. Also note if you had a leadership role, if you won an award, and/or background information about the engagement. 

    Don't feel limited to just the usual extracurricular activities either. Talk about your employment, time-consuming hobbies, non-traditional volunteering, internships, research, student government, publications, or caregiving responsibilities.

    Tips for the Activities Section

    Follow the instructions.

    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 upload a resume as an "additional information" supplement.

    See the point above. We will not review a resume at best, at worse it may be interpreted as not following instructions.

    4 is the limit. Think carefully about what you would like to highlight.

    You have had more than four experiences that are meaningful to you, so think about the story you want to tell about yourself to the admissions committee and which engagements fit that characterization. Please choose four activities that are truly meaningful to you. Don't choose the ones you think we want to see (you just might be wrong). Remember, just because you did something for a long time doesn't make it valuable. Choose the four 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. Don't let the admissions committee fall victim to jargon.

    List the name of the actual group, employer, etc. in the first line of the activity, when applicable.

    We want to see specific organizations or activities you're involved in here. That helps us get to know you much better. It also leaves you more space in the "Participation Details" line to give us your actual position or roles. We know some independent activities, such as hobbies, don't have an overarching organization you are involved with, and in that case it's fine to give us more of a descriptor (e.g. "independent genealogy research").

    Test Scores

    Let's talk about test scores. The University of Iowa Honors Program is test blind. That means that your SAT or ACT test scores will not be a factor to determine your acceptance. 

    Do's and Don'ts

    When you're putting together your application, there are a few things we recommend you do and some things we recommend you don't do:


    • Read the instructions! Give a once or twice over to make sure you understand what we're asking for. 

    • Make sure you're answering the essay prompt. 

    • Ask people to look over your materials before you submit your application! Proofreading can go a long way. 

    • Give yourself time to submit your application. Don't wait till the last minute. 

    • Reach out to the Honors Program Admission team with any of your questions!


    • Upload unnecessary materials, such as your resume, pictures of yourself, or anything we don't ask for. 

    • Pander. Your accomplishments and experiences are important but don't pander to the admissions office. We can see right through it. 

    • Recycle an essay that you've written for another application, especially if it doesn't actually answer our prompt!