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The best approach to honors students is to acknowledge that they are fully operating adults. This approach is the only and best way to confront the troubles that interrupt academic progress. Trouble requires either capitulation or growth. In a society that treats college as preparation for a job, honors holds out the hope that we can accomplish the crucial task of helping young people become strong and moral leaders in all areas of life. How we assist them achieve such a status determines our success and integrity as a special component of a university. The willingness and courage of our young honors students often defies our expectations, but what they wish for more than anything is that someone—often us—“have their back.”
What we have to offer as academics is the application of reason to the problems our students face. Of course as humans we offer empathy and sometimes sympathy, but usually when problems threaten to overwhelm students, our best approach is to provide calm assistance in helping them think through potential solutions. Most often, students will take control and seek remedies. On occasion, however, students face physical or mental problems that simply cannot be resolved without intervention; in such cases, we assist them in finding the expertise they need by, for instance, escorting them to hospitals or campus health centers. Even in extreme cases, though, a spirit of collegiality in the relationship between faculty and student remains the bedrock for assisting students in trouble.