Frequently Asked Questions

What is a residential college?

A residential college is a federated program within a university that concentrates on integrating academic and co-curricular programs. Students work with professors both inside and outside the classroom in an inquiry-based, experiential approach to learning that connects academic course work with personal and social development. Students live in the same residence hall, the Living Learning Center (LLC), take many of their classes there, and share meals with each other and with their faculty. Classes are small seminars and students learn not only from one another, but from students who have already successfully navigated the first year of their university curriculum. On their part, faculty concentrate their efforts on providing a superior undergraduate education for students, rather than on conducting their own research at the expense of students.

How is a residential college different from a residential learning community?

The primary difference is that the experience offered by a residential college is both deeper and broader than a residential learning community. Residential learning communities are centered in and around concepts and principles of residence life. Residential learning communities may require participation in one or two classes, but faculty involvement in residential learning communities is limited and usually concentrated on those few classes that are often dictated by the theme of the residential community. In a residential college, by contrast, faculty leadership of and student integration into the ethos of the college are crucial. The curriculum reaches across several years of a student's experience, not just one or two classes. Faculty and students develop close and cohesive relationships, sharing not only the residential situation but meals and numerous other co-curricular as well as curricular learning experiences.

Can I join Watauga as a Transfer or Early College Student?

Because Watauga Residential College is an alternative way to meet some of your general education requirements, we are not a particularly good fit for early college students, though this does depend upon the number of credit hours you will complete before college.  We suggest that if you have 20 or more early college credits that you consider one of the other fine residential programs available at Appalachian State University.  Since we expect that students will begin their 1st year of college with us, we do not accept transfer students into Watauga Residential College.

What is inquiry-based learning?

In inquiry-based learning, students, rather than concentrating on finding the "right" answer, learn to ask questions that encourage creative and interdisciplinary thought. Much of the value of higher education resides not in simply satisfying degree requirements, but in developing a restless, curious, and critically-informed mindset. This is the purpose of inquiry-based learning. Faculty using this method do not think of themselves as experts, but as fellow travelers on a journey of intellectual and personal discovery.

Can I join Watauga after I have already started at ASU?

Because Watauga is primarily a two-year program, and the strong community that we establish begins in our first week of classes, we believe that students need to join Watauga at the very start of their freshman year. Wataugans will participate in a special orientation session in the summer prior to the academic year and several other events developed specifically for Wataugans occur in the first semester of classes. For these reasons, we do not normally allow students to join Watauga Residential College after they have already begun at ASU.

Can I do both Watauga and the Honors Program?

Yes, you can. In fact, there is an Honors section of Investigations: Local in the fall, so one course can give you credit in both programs. If you feel that trying to meet the requirements of both programs will be overwhelming, we recommend that you start in both. You can then make an informed decision about doing both or choosing one over the other. Wataugans can also join Teaching Fellows and the Language and Culture Community.

Are there programs that are incompatible with Watauga?

Almost every major or program offered by the university will work with Watauga.  Some majors are more restrictive than others, and so it is important to work closely with our academic adviser to ensure that you are taking the right courses at the right time.  The only program we have found that is not compatible with Watauga is marching band:  this is because marching band practices are held at the same time as our scheduled lunches on Tuesday and Thursday.  Some marching band students, though, choose to participate in Watauga Residential College their first year and join the band their sophomore year.

How do I apply for Watauga?

As one of Appalachian's premier programs, application for Watauga Residential College is conducted as part of our scholarship selection process. For more information on applying to Watauga go to the Scholarship Portal in the Admissions Website.

How are Watauga classes different from most freshman/sophomore-level classes?

Watauga classes are interactive, interdisciplinary, internationally-focused, and especially challenging, requiring you to use information in new and creative ways. The classes emphasize analytical reading and writing, creative research, and individual and group projects leading to public presentations. The fall and spring freshman core (Investigations: Local and Investigations: Global) form a coordinated curriculum leading to global awareness, beginning your journey to global competence.

When will I take classes in my major?

The 21 semester hours of Watauga classes are spread over five semesters, diminishing in percentage as you take more classes in your major. From your first semester at Appalachian, you will integrate Watauga courses, major courses, electives, and other requirements into a balanced schedule.

Will I lose credits if I transfer to another college or university?

No. Watauga credits transfer just like Appalachian credits.  Some universities, however, have different general education requirements and so transferring from any program to another university never guarantees a seamless move.

Should I enroll in the First Year Seminar if I'm in Watauga?

No. Much of what happens in the First Year Seminar is incorporated into the Watauga curriculum. In the fall core class, Investigations: Local, you'll receive credit for First Year Seminar and First Year Writing.

Does Watauga affect my choice of major?

No. All freshmen must fulfill core requirements regardless of major. What you will experience in Watauga will enhance any major and subsequent career you choose.

Am I required to live in the Living Learning Center?

Yes, at least for your freshman year. Living together is an important component of Watauga.

What if I have AP or other credits coming in?

You will retain all previously earned credits and earn additional credits in Watauga that meet general education requirements.

Does Watauga cost more?

Tuition is the same. There is a $100 surcharge per year to live in the Living Learning Center because of the extra amenities available (this is true of all Appalachian's new and recently renovated residence halls). In addition, the Watauga Assembly (the student organization of Watauga) collects $125 in dues from each freshman. This pays for special meals, events, trips and other activities that are open to all Wataugans from the freshman to junior year, and is a one-time only dues payment.

What does it mean to "graduate" from Watauga Residential College?

It means you've completed 21 semester hours, including a junior capstone experience, in the Watauga curriculum. It means you have developed strong reading, writing and discussion skills, and departments will welcome you as majors. It means you have 200 or more friends across campus with whom you've shared the joys and trials of growing beyond adolescence. It means you get to participate in Watauga Graduation, a lively ceremony that has become a spring tradition for Watauga faculty, students, and their families and friends. And it means you can forever claim to be "a Wataugan," co-owner of an exceptional educational experience at Appalachian. And finally, you can earn a University-recognized certificate in interdisciplinary, experiential education, tangible proof that you have gone beyond a typical, classroom-oriented education.