National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Spring/Summer 2013, Volume 14, Number 1


Copyright 2013 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


While honors programs and colleges often proclaim the importance of recruiting and retaining a diverse group of high-ability students, many are still exclusionary and predicated on assumptions about the student body that are no longer valid. In general, we assume that honors students matriculate straight from high school and, having no family obligations, are able to reside in honors living-learning communities, participate in co-curricular honors experiences, and take advantage of honors study abroad opportunities. The structure and programming of honors can thus prohibit the full participation of nontraditional students and compound the personal and psychological barriers that keep many talented, high-achieving nontraditional students from pursuing honors. Yet the diverse voices that nontraditional students provide can add a fuller range of perspectives to our programs and especially to our discussionbased honors courses. Furthermore, nontraditional students are crucial to the future health of honors; with the seismic shift in student demographics, honors programs ignore nontraditional students at their own peril.