National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Fall 2007


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 8:2, Fall/Winter 2007. Copyright © 2007 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


In an impressive article published in the 2005 summer issue of JNCHC, Cheryl Achterberg laments the lack of empirical data available to provide a workable definition for honors students. While she duly notes that there is an “ideology” that honors students are “superior” to other students in an institution or of “high ability” or “the best and brightest,” she laments that “[t]here are few characteristics of honors students that can be standardized, measured, or uniformly compared across institutions” (Achterberg 75). She concludes her article with these considerations: honors students are “not a homogeneous group with a set of absolute or fixed characteristics”; they “have much in common with other non-honors students of their own age group”; they “are (or should be) academically superior to their non-honors counterparts within any given institution”; and they “are probably little different today than the honors students of yesteryear.” Achterberg calls for more research to understand “how honors students develop academically, intellectually, socially, emotionally, and as leaders relative to their non-honors peers” (79).