National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Fall/Winter 2015, Volume 16, Number 2.


Copyright © 2015 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Honors education in the United States got its start almost a century ago when Frank Aydelotte became president of Swarthmore in 1921 and introduced a then-radical curriculum for juniors and seniors that emphasized active learning, critical thinking, and interdisciplinarity (Rinn 70–3). Informed by his experience as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, Aydelotte believed that a specially designed curriculum for high-achieving students would push such students intellectually and yield positive learning outcomes. Aydelotte’s brainchild has proved wildly successful, so much so that the National Collegiate Honors Council can point to over 800 institutional members on the eve of its fiftieth anniversary.