Date of this Version
Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Fall/Winter 2013, Volume 14, Number 2
An honors curriculum with realistic graduation requirements should have a respectable graduation rate. This number, when low, can indicate significant problems in the program. But a high graduation rate does not necessarily indicate success. A quality honors program, especially one that remains attentive to students’ ability to thrive, might have better measures available for judging impact and effectiveness. After all, manipulating a graduation rate is easy: make the curriculum excessively convenient and lower standards. While some honors curricula are perhaps unnecessarily rigid or unusually difficult, the faculty and administrators of most quality programs have managed to create a curriculum with standards and requirements that the majority of honors-type students are able to achieve. Even so, honors requirements must represent challenges. Aristotle reminds us in Nichomachean Ethics, “it is also hard work to be excellent” (51), and thus it is important that honors achievements remain admirable and its requirements adequately aspirational.