National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Honors in Practice, volume 3. Copyright 2007 National Collegiate Honors Council.


In 1993, the new director of the recently revived Honors Program at Eastern Connecticut State University discovered that even seniors in this small program did not know each other and that some of them, not wanting to be branded nerds, were reluctant even to identify themselves as honors scholars. The program clearly needed a culture, a sense of community, and pride. With ideas lifted from NCHC conference sessions, a number of initiatives were launched, including contracts with students, a revived honors club, student-sponsored social events, and active student participation in regional conferences. The most interesting and perhaps controversial method of achieving esprit was the development of intensive first-year courses, taught by the director, in which the entire cohort worked in groups with interns, upper-division honors students, who served as discussion leaders and mentors and graded papers and quizzes. This first-year program became very loosely analogous to basic training or boot camp in that it was an intense experience, eventually shared by everyone in the program. It fashioned a strong bond between all members of the freshman cohort and initiated them into the honors community.