National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice 12 (2016), pp 33-58


© Copyright 2016 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


In recent years, retention and graduation of honors students have received increasing attention in scholarly literature. In the spring of 2013, as a part of the strategic planning process, the South Dakota State University (SDSU) Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College invited current honors students to complete an online survey aimed at collecting information about the key factors that affected students’ initial decision to enroll in the honors college, the main reasons affecting their decision to continue their enrollment, and the challenges and levels of satisfaction they experienced. Study results indicated that most students were highly satisfied with their honors experience, smaller classes, opportunities to enhance their leadership and intellectual growth, and close connection with honors faculty and their peers (Nichols and Chang). In 2014, as an extension of the 2013 study, a team of researchers set out to further explore the other side of these issues: why not honors? What factors influence students’ decisions whether to enroll or not to enroll and persist through graduation with honors? While this research is based on students at South Dakota State University, insights gained may be relevant to other honors programs and professionals seeking to better understand and serve their students.