National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Spring 2007


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 8:1, Spring/Summer 2007. Copyright © 2007 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


In the best of all academic worlds, the phrase “grading in honors” is an oxymoron. According to many and various sources, the gifted college student is more of a perfectionist with higher educational aspirations than non-honors students. She tends to be more autonomous, self-aware, and willing to engage in discourse than non-honors students. We know that she comes to us with higher academic credentials than non-honors students and that she is, therefore, more poised for success. How, then, do we assess the creative, energetic, enthusiastic, impassioned work we expect from such students? Should we be required to do so?
In the best of all academic worlds, students sit at the feet of wise and experienced professors and gather knowledge until they feel they have achieved the measure of education to which they aspire. Such students determine the parameters of their own learning and, thus, their saturation point. They maintain their own quality control so that their efforts reflect their personal best. In an age of big-business education and rising credentialism, however, this model is impractical and unmanageable. More’s the pity.