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Hicks Honors College

Honors First Year Experience

Beginning Retreat 2024: Students should prepare for breakfast each morning on their own. Some light snacks will be available while supplies last. More information under the "Will meals be provided during the retreat?" FAQ below.

Welcome to the Hicks Honors College!

We know it is important for our students to feel comfortable and connected with one another, so the Hicks Honors College has created a special first-year experience for our students to help build these lasting connections. This programing includes our first-year Colloquium class, the Honors LLC, and our annual Freshman Retreat.


Next Steps:

  1. Register for orientation (preferably in May, June, or July).
  2. Complete your Housing Contract (if you plan to live on campus).
  3. Attend your pre-orientation First-Year Advising appointment and choose your Colloquium theme.
  4. Complete your summer assignments before the honors Retreat in August.
  5. Attend Retreat.
Students posing while wearing a mustache and hat

Want to live on campus with other Honors students?

While there are several housing options for first-year students, Hicks Honors College students have the incredible opportunity to live in the Honors Living Learning Community (LLC) in Osprey Crossings. The Honors LLC is one of the most sought after housing accommodations on campus and allows honors students to engage with one another outside the classroom.

Students at retreat group shot

First Year Academics

The Hicks Honors College first-year experience includes Honors Colloquium, a required fall semester course for all first-year Hicks Honors students. To prepare for this course, students should complete their summer assignments. In the Spring semester, students choose from a range of topics for their required writing class, IDH 1923. Past topics have included, but are not limited to, Difficult Conversations, Hidden Kitchens, Gothic Literature, Homelessness and Empathy, and Mythmaking.

  • Something You Know A Lot About (SYKALA)

    During the retreat, you will be tasked with giving a presentation on something you know a lot about. You can present on anything, as long as it can be accomplished within the given rubric. Previous topics have been "How to make Rice Balls," "How to Write a Good Character," "Puppeteers," "Orca Whales," and many others. These presentations on Something You Know a Lot About are referred to as SYKALAs and you will need to prepare one before the retreat.

    Please note that you will need to turn in something at retreat check-in which demonstrates that you have already prepared your presentation, such as a hard copy outline of your presentation or PowerPoint slides.

    Here are some examples of past SYKALA presentations:

    The full rubric is located here: SYKALA Rubric 

  • Summer Reading Assignments

    All incoming Honors students will be discussing Connections Are Everything by Peter Felten, Leo Lambert, Isis Artze-Vega and Oscar Miranda Tapia, ISBN-10: 1421443120. (Also available online:

    Please also watch this Ted Talk before you arrive on campus:

    Both will be discussed at the Honors Retreat and in the first few classes.

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) & Strong Interest Inventory (SII) Instructions

    To learn more about your personality, team dynamics and career interests, you will complete the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strong Interest Inventory (SII).  Please review the following directions and guideline and then click the link provided to complete assessments.

    Both assessments should be completed by July 31, 2024.

    You will receive an interpretation of your results and a copy of your reports at the Retreat.  If you are absent that day, you must schedule an individual appointment with a Career Counselor to receive your interpretation and reports.

  • Family History Research (only for students registered in National Identity/Migration)

    This assignment is just for students registered in National Identity/Migration


    You do not have to complete this research over the summer. I want you to have advance notice in case you are seeing extended family over the summer so that you can look at/photograph any documents or record any conversations that might be helpful.

    Please contact your family and find out whatever you can about your family history as far back as you can. Focus your research on your family's immigration history, not the whole family history. The questions might include:

    • When did your family members immigrate?
    • Why did they immigrate?
    • How did they do it (ship passage, flights, with jobs in advance?
    • What was life like (jobs, family size, lifestyle, assets) before immigration in the home country?
    • Were there "push factors" which are circumstances in the home country that contributed a desire/need to leave?
    • What was life like after immigration (jobs, family size, lifestyle, assets)?
    • Were there "pull factors" or promises of better life in the U.S. that contributed a desire to immigrate?
    • Did your family move around in the US after that, and again, why?

    In October, you will submit a research paper trying to answer the question, "Why did my family immigrate to the US?" You likely will have several ancestors to choose from, unless you, yourself are the immigrant. Information should be drawn from two sources: oral histories from family members and textual evidence: history and/or documentary evidence. The documentary evidence will answer the when and how questions, and possibly some of the why questions, and the oral histories may be able to fill in the gaps. I do not want you to write the paper now (there will be some workshops and discussions of expectations throughout the semester that I want you to hear before you actually begin to write), but for many, it will be easier to do the research now, as it asks you to contact family members and perhaps look at and maybe photograph or copy documents that might be hard to access during the busy semester away from home.

    There are multiple options for this assignment for students who might face challenges with this assignment. For instance, there are separate options for those who are estranged from family, have adoption in their family history, or for whom “immigration” is the wrong concept (African-American or Native American, for instance). Feel free to reach out to Dr. Kaplan with any concerns.

Honors First Year Retreat

The Honors First Year Retreat is an incredible opportunity for first-year Hicks Honors College students to make friends, meet faculty, explore the UNF campus, participate in Eco Adventure activities, and get to know their future classmates. Retreat begins on the second Wednesday of August every year and lasts until Saturday afternoon. 

In addition, because of the Honors Retreat, all first-year honors students living on-campus will move into their respective dorms early (the same Wednesday Retreat begins). Students will have the first half of the day to move into their dorm, do some last minute shopping, and say goodbye to family before the Retreat begins Wednesday afternoon. 

Note: the Honors Retreat is mandatory for all incoming first-year honors students. If you have a scheduling conflict, please let the Honors office know as soon as possible by emailing