National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council Vol. 11, No. 2 (Fall/Winter 2010).

ISSN 1559-0151 Copyright © 2010 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


The very morning I received the JNCHC announcement of an issue devoted to honors students in trouble, I met with the mother of a freshman honors student who had threatened that weekend to kill herself. The parent, who had flown over two thousand miles to our campus, was predictably upset and the student demoralized. After individual conversations with each party, during which we decided the best course of action for the student would be to leave honors, I listened to this young lady make the courageous admission that she had never wanted to join the honors program but did so only to please her parents. Other honors students this year have struggled through brutal conflicts with family members, homesickness, substance abuse, computer addiction, and severe motivation problems without resolving the issues successfully.

I found myself wondering about the causes of these painful misfortunes and, in particular, why these students didn’t ask for help or only sought assistance when it was essentially too late to dig out of what had become very deep holes. Why is it so hard for honors students to ask for help? They have always been told they are the best and the brightest, able to leap tall (academic) buildings in a single bound, but such messages may well be part of the problem.