National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Honors in Practice, 2022, Vol. 18: 29–44


© Copyright 2022 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


This study continues an earlier (2021) examination of a program’s move from an admissions framework that used standardized test score thresholds to a test-blind holistic review. While the initial study evinced holistic review as a more equitable gateway to honors education for students from underserved backgrounds (as compared to admission frameworks that rely heavily on SAT/ACT thresholds), the current study further substantiates this finding as the program fully transitions to its subsequent admission cycle. In addition to affirming holistic admissions practice as effective for diversifying honors populations, the study considers two additional results. First, the holistic review rubric is assessed from the lenses of equity and efficacy. The revised rubric and the rationale for revision are provided. Results indicate that high school GPA and co- and extra-curricular involvement are key predictors of success in honors programs. Second, researchers track annual achievement and involvement of students in the fall 2020 cohort based on which admission track they followed. Students admitted through holistic review without SAT/ACT scores tend to be more involved in the program but experience difficulty in maintaining the minimum honors GPA in their first year. Results offer a backdrop for important discussions currently underway in the honors community regarding how to best provide equitable gateways and welcoming and supportive programs that give students tools for success in honors.