The University Honors Program will begin accepting rising sophomores next fall, a reversal of a two-year policy that barred everyone but incoming freshmen from entering the selective program.
Admitted sophomores will be enrolled in an extensive catch-up course, but administrators said the new students - who have until Feb. 25 to apply - will be on track to complete the heavy workload. There are 15 spots open for next fall.
The policy switch was made after extensive discussions between honors program faculty, students and other University officials, Executive Director of the University Honors Program Maria Frawley said.
"I've heard from various people in the admissions office and the dean of freshmen's office about how desirable it would be for students who choose GW to have a second chance at applying to the honors program," Frawley said. "Either because they didn't realize they had to apply at the point of their initial application or because they opted not to and regretted their decision."
When the program adopted a rigorous new curriculum in 2007, admission was restricted to incoming freshmen because of a requirement mandating that a certain number of honors courses be completed by the end of sophomore year.
"It's going to be more competitive to get in as a rising sophomore," Jared Meyer, the program's communications coordinator, said. "They have a narrower window."
Students will be expected to maintain a 3.40 GPA, take at least 12 credits per semester and complete a special curriculum. The program currently accepts about 125 students per freshman class and has a total of nearly 400 students, Frawley said.
Several freshmen already in the honors program said they have friends who are now interested in applying because they've seen how their peers have benefited from it.
"[The change in admissions policy] allows more kids who now see what it's like to apply," freshman honors student Glen Forster said. "And I think it lets kids who have done well their first semester show that they are worthy and would do well in the honors program."
Anna Korman, another freshman, said she was unsure about applying to the program as part of her initial application to GW.
"I didn't want to apply because I wasn't sure that I was interested in the components of it," she said. "But now that I've been here... I live on the honors floor so I know a lot of the honors kids and they love the program and only tell me good things about it. Hearing that from them has made me really interested in being a part of it."