Every March, hundreds of high school seniors flood onto Elon University’s campus, all hoping to earn a spot in one of Elon’s prestigious Fellows Programs. These programs offer students opportunities for academic and professional exploration beyond those already offered by the university.

But the different Fellows Programs — Business, Communications, Elon College, Honors, Isabella Cannon Leadership and Teaching — don’t offer equal opportunities to or expect similar contributions from their Fellows.

Some require years-long research projects. Others take students on traveling courses that allow them to see how their disciplines are applied in different settings. Some Fellows are known for their close-knit, active communities. Others receive the academic benefits of being a Fellow but lack Fellows communities based in their disciplines.

A more equal balance across programs would allow all Fellows Programs to adapt their resources to suit their disciplines and offer their students the opportunities they need to further their educations and build successful communities around Elon’s various schools.

The Fellows Programs’ funding is built into the annual budget of the university, Vice President of Admissions and Financial Planning Greg Zaiser said in an email. Each program’s respective director determines how they function, though the university sets GPA requirements and other academic expectations for Fellows. 

Honors Fellows receive more than twice as much in Fellows scholarship money — excluding other scholarships, grants and awards — as Fellows in other programs. But Honors Fellows must, among other requirements, complete a senior research thesis that requires eight credit hours of research.

In comparison, Elon College Fellows have a similar research project that requires, among other things, at least four credit hours of research. Teaching Fellows find faculty mentors and engage in lines of inquiry with them, presenting their findings their junior year.

All Honors, Elon College and Teaching Fellows in good standing receive Fellows scholarship money. All Elon College and Teaching Fellows receive $5,500 annually, an amount on par with the rest of the programs, though only select Business Fellows, Communications Fellows and Leadership Fellows receive scholarships.

More scholarship money is given to Honors Fellows, Elon College Fellows and Teaching Fellows. More expectations are also asked of them. But all Fellows can, and should, be held to similarly high expectations and receive similar benefits.

There is room for adjustment, so Fellows in different majors, fields and schools can apply their studies in ways that fulfill their career goals and interests.

Balanced requirements across Fellows Programs, accompanied by more evenly distributed funding, would hold all Fellows to the same standards. Balance across Fellows Programs could make them all able to offer their students opportunities to succeed within their schools and disciplines.

The programs are meant to enhance the undergraduate experiences all Elon students receive. But Fellows of all majors and programs should be equal recipients of these extra opportunities, so the Fellows experience can be equal across programs.

The information presented below further outlines the Fellows programs’ various scholarships, requirements and opportunities. All scholarship money listed excludes Presidential Scholarships and any other grants, awards and scholarships Fellows may receive. Information has been confirmed with the various Fellows Program directors.