National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, Volume 7. Copyright 2011 National Collegiate Honors Council


Exploration and development of identity, autonomy, sexuality, academic functioning, and peer relationships are important age-appropriate tasks of adolescence and emerging adulthood (Baer & Peterson; Cicchetti & Rogosch; Erikson). During college, this developmental stage may manifest as questioning prior beliefs and assumptions and exploring fresh philosophies and behaviors (Schulenberg & Maggs). Many emerging adults try out what they believe are different facets of adult life. Some of the requisite experimentation may include risk-taking behavior, including experimentation with alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana (Baer & Peterson; Shedler & Block; Winters). College provides opportunities to experiment with potentially addictive substances at peer-run social events that often include alcohol and other substances (Schulenberg & Maggs). The combination of a mindset poised for exploration and a developmental period with enhanced opportunity for experimental behavior makes college a unique time to explore the high-risk behaviors that are prevalent within emerging adult communities. While large courses may usher university students through the research about what constitutes addictions, honors programs offer an invaluable resource for exploring more fully these value-laden, highrisk, and timely questions. In small, discussion-based honors classes, emerging adults are able to actively explore their questions, thoughts, and previous conceptions about addiction in a manner that would not be possible in larger classes. The students emerge from my 300-level honors class—titled “Yeah, I Like It, but I’m Not Addicted”: Exploring the Meanings and Consequences of Addiction—with a more thorough understanding of addiction as well as analytical skills that will help them navigate both academic and personal contexts in college.