- December 1st, 2020
The University of Alabama Honors College is dedicated to making our community of scholars an even more diverse, inclusive and equitable place to learn. This mission is not one that the Honors College faculty and staff take lightly. It requires a concerted effort from each team, department and program within Honors. The initiatives of the Honors College Recruitment and Admissions team are the first step in fulfilling this important mission. The goals of Recruitment and Admissions are to revise admission procedures within the college, to partner with campus organizations and community groups to recruit current students and to expand the college’s partnership with Capstone International.
The novel coronavirus pandemic has caused higher education practices to shift dramatically—for instance the University has made the admissions process more accessible by making standardized test score submission optional. Standardized tests are barriers for students who cannot afford to take the test multiple times, or do not have access to test preparation resources. “The research and the data show that oftentimes these tests are biased against students of color,” said Brandon Chalmers, Coordinator of Student Recruitment, “so this [change to test-optional admission] will allow us to look at GPA as well as recommendations [in order to] give students opportunities.” To learn more about the test-optional application process, visit the University Honors Program page.
Partnerships with campus organizations and community groups are imperative to the recruitment of students of diverse backgrounds and life experiences. One Honors College partnership is with the Black Faculty and Staff Association’s Black Scholars Program. Its mission is to “provide an opportunity for African American and multicultural students who have excelled academically, to develop, prepare and gain entry into The University of Alabama Honors College and other leadership programs at UA.” This semester, the Honors College participated in the BFSA’s Hook-Up panel and presented an Honors Showcase highlighting Honors programs and involvement opportunities.
International students make up nearly three percent of the University’s undergraduate population; however, that number is not reflected in our Honors College population. Haleigh Sandlin, Assistant Coordinator of Student Recruitment, has a passion for empowering international students to take full advantage of their time at the Capstone. “Even in my interview [for this position] I was talking about working with international students,” said Sandlin. The Honors College has participated in virtual events with the Capstone International Center—an Instagram Live Q&A session and International Coffee Hour—and is exploring opportunities to be a part of the international undergraduate recruitment process.
The Fall 2020 semester has been a test of ingenuity, determination and perseverance. Our Honors College Recruitment and Admissions team has found inventive ways to propel the college toward its goals—many practices that will continue into the future. Virtual recruitment has been a strong tool for increasing accessibility for students looking to start their collegiate journey. “Having these events, that we would typically do in person, be virtual now are letting us reach populations that we had a hard time reaching beforehand. Because, they may have been unable to come visit campus. A silver lining has come out of that,” said Sandlin.
Chalmers remarked on the direction of DEI in the Honors College, “I’m excited about being able to put weight into these initiatives and having the support of administration as the groundwork has been laid.”
The University of Alabama Honors College is committed to cultivating a scholarly community that celebrates values of diversity, equity and inclusion. The Honors College strives to create and actively promote a welcoming and supportive environment where diverse perspectives and identities are encouraged, recognized and respected.