Each year, the WJU Honors Program awards two full-tuition scholarships to students who compete successfully in a multi-stage event during their senior year of high school. The Stephen J. Laut, S.J. Scholarship is renewable for all four years of the student's undergraduate course of study at WJU, as long as the student continues to maintain all Honors Program qualifications. (Please see History and Design for more information on Fr. Laut.)
The Multi-Stage Laut Scholarship Competition
The multi-stage competition is initiated by the student's automatic eligibility. As of November 15, all high-school seniors accepted for admission to WJU for the following Fall semester who have scored at least 1100 on the SAT and/or 24 on the ACT standardized examination and who have maintained a minimum 3.5 high-school GPA will be invited to participate. The initial invitation will come via a very specific essay-prompt. Students will be requested by the Honors Program to write an essay of approximately 1,000 words on a specified topic in current political or cultural events. The deadline for submitting an essay on the assigned topic typically then falls due in early December. Those who submit an essay automatically become semi-finalists and will be given all due consideration for the four-year, full-tuition scholarship.
The Director of the Honors Program, in consultation with another WJU faculty member, selects 15-20 finalists based on their general qualifications and specific performance on the essay. Finalists are notified before Christmas and invited (with their families) to the second phase of the competition on campus in late January.
The Director of the Honors Program, faculty colleagues, WJU Honors Program alumni and current Ignatian Honors Seminar members conduct the on-campus, semi-finalist phase of the competition. Semi-finalists participate in four sessions of activities:
- a group interview (five semi-finalists per group) by a panel of WJU faculty;
- a group interview (five semi-finalists per group) by a panel of Honors Seminar alumni and current students;
- an impromptu essay on an assigned topic;
- a multiple-choice personality inventory.
Each session is roughly 30 minutes in duration; during the two hours that the semi-finalists compete, the families of the semi-finalists will be entertained by a lively sample Honors Seminar “class meeting,” have a break for refreshments, and engage in a Q&A session with Honors Program faculty and students. At the end of the two-hour competition, semi-finalists are reunited with their families and served a full-course dinner compliments of Wheeling Jesuit University.
The Director, in consultation with participating faculty and Honors Program alumni and current students, as well as with the WJU Admissions staff, determines the two winners and alternates as soon as possible in early February and notifies all participants. Those offered the four-year, full-tuition scholarship typically have two weeks to accept the offer.
Continuing Four-Year Qualifications for the Laut Scholarship
Laut Scholarship recipients are very carefully selected, but they must remain worthy of the great honor and (economic privilege) granted them. Laut Scholars are expected to
- demonstrate full engagement in the Laut Honors College and the Ignatian Honors Seminar;
- conduct themselves with exemplary integrity throughout the completion of the general academic requirements of WJU;
- maintain a 3.0 GPA after the first semester, a 3.3 GPA after the first academic year, and a subsequent 3.5 GPA through graduation
- perform other periodic duties as assigned by the Director, including representing the Laut Honors College in administrative planning meetings and participating in subsequent annual Laut Scholarship competition events.