Sold-out concerts, celebrity gawking at Sundance, cross-country skiing and rock climbing expeditions are activities more likely to be associated with a thrill-seeking adventurer than an Honors student. On campus, though, the two have much more in common than expected.

“The Honors Program provides the kind of intellectual community that is found in few other places at our university,” said Honors program student Haley Larsen. “We have the opportunity to take our education above the minimum requirements into actual use in our lives. The program invites and encourages critical thinking to be applied beyond grades. That is pretty rare.”

The Honors Program invites motivated students to maximize their full academic, professional and human potential.

The application process requires students to submit high school and college transcripts along with a few brief essays. After being accepted, students are required to maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 3.40 and be enrolled in at least one Honors-level course per semester.

Students in the program can select from various courses cross-listed with Honors, or they can create a contract with a professor requiring a more rigorous workload for Honors credit. A final thesis is also required to graduate.

But why exactly would someone want to become an Honors student? It obviously entails taking on more responsibilities on campus, a rigorous course load, tougher assignments and the final thesis upon graduation.

“The focus of the program is on how to make students ready for graduate school or their professional career,“ said Tiffany Nez, one of the Honors Program Coordinators. “We want students to help students know what it feels like to be engaged.”

One reason is the Honors Colloquium. This one-credit course is required for three semesters in order for students to graduate with honors. Through the Colloquium class, students are invited to attend guest lectures, concerts and performances, outdoor activities and volunteer service projects.

Honors students have attended performances by the Utah Symphony, movie premiers at the Sundance Film Festival, Modest Mouse and Sonic Youth concerts and hiking trips in Labyrinth Canyon and Capitol Reef.

In addition to the Colloquium events, Honors values a more personalized approach to teaching and mentoring.

“The Honors team is supportive and always keeps an eye on you,“ Nez said. “Students have better access to professors and advisors. If you start to struggle, someone is there to hold your hand.”