“The Honors Program is why I actually came here as an undergrad,” Palian said.
Palian was offered a full-tuition scholarship from NIU as an honors fellow. He told the students that he liked NIU so much that he stayed for seven years, earning a bachelor’s degree in communication and a master’s degree in sport management.
He also liked NIU because it was close to his Naperville home so he could continue a lawn maintenance business.
Besides affordability, NIU was the right fit for many reasons, he said, including offering the academic programs that he wanted and meeting people from different disciplines through the Honors Program.
He encouraged students to meet people from all walks of life and shared how his relationships led to job opportunities. For instance, Palian became the public address announcer for the Kane County Cougars through an acquaintance when he first started in his field. Other associations led to a marketing job at a radio station and a job as marketing director for the Mid-American Conference.
Honors students can apply for honors-only scholarships, take honors-only courses, study abroad, be involved in peer mentoring, get priority registration and participate in social events and trips. They also get assistance to prepare for graduate school admission tests and don’t pay the registration fee for the tests.
The Honors Program is designed “to enhance your education at NIU,” said Joanne Ganshirt, office manager of the Honors Program.
It provides “the best opportunities for getting into graduate school, getting the career path you want and just improving your whole education experience,” Ganshirt said.
About 1,000 students are enrolled in the program. For admission into the program, NIU and transfer students need a cumulative grade point average of 3.2. The criteria for entering freshmen are an ACT score of at least 27 and a ranking in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class (or a 3.75 GPA if the schools does not rank). The program does exercise some discretion when a student falls slightly below the criteria.