National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, volume 1. Copyright 2005 National Collegiate Honors Council.


In this article, we report on an effective means to enhance the honors freshman- year experience and thereby reduce the high rates of attrition commonly associated with the first year in college. Research by Tinto (1975; 1987) has shown that academic as well as social integration contributes to student persistence and success in college. Consequently, the successful transition from high school to college requires that freshmen make adjustments both academically and socially. The lack of integration in either of these domains will reduce student persistence and increase the likelihood that students will be college dropouts. The effects of academic and social integration are particularly acute during the first year of college, as borne out by statistics indicating that student attrition is greatest during the freshman year. For instance, Levitz and Noel (1989) report that there is a 50% decrease in student attrition rates per year in college. Moreover, among all freshman drop-outs, half occur during the first six weeks of the first semester (Myers, 1981). Fostering a successful freshman year is the most significant intervention that can increase student persistence (Levitz and Noel, 1989).