Date of this Version
Honors in Practice, Volume 10 (2014)
In 2013–2014, the Governors State University (GSU) Honors Program was faced with a need to evolve from a two-year honors program serving juniors and seniors only to a four-year honors program. This need was born out of the university’s transition to a four-year university in 2014–2015. This mandate led to some concerns that I, the newly installed director of the program, needed to address. First, I needed to recruit traditional high-achieving freshman students to a university honors program that, as of fall 2013, did not exist. Second, because GSU has never had freshmen, the university and its honors program were little-known among local high school populations. Third, the typical GSU undergraduate student in 2013–14—average age 31.5, Generation X, non-traditional (University Fast Facts)—was a stark contrast to the type of student I was recruiting—average age 17–18, Millennial, traditional—and was not a good fit to provide guidance on the needs and interests of the forthcoming traditional freshman population. Fourth, past scholarship suggests that minorities are an underrepresented population in honors programs (McKay) while GSU serves the ethnically diverse Chicago Southland with a population of 2.5 million (Chicago Southland News). This diversity is evident in GSU’s undergraduate population, which is 49% minority (University Fast Facts) and enrolls hundreds of first-generation college students. In the context of all these factors, I needed to find a way to gather data on the needs, interests, and expectations of our forthcoming new honors program population.