National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Fall/Winter 2016).


Copyright © 2016 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


College affordability is weighing heavily this year on the minds of students, parents, faculty, and the U.S. electorate. Intent on saving money on college tuition as well as impressing college admissions committees, high-achieving students frequently start college-level work early through Advanced Placement courses. However, these courses do not replace the learning that takes place in college-level honors courses. For honors students, making the transition between high school and college means finding opportunities to learn in new ways, taking risks, and diving deeper into ideas.

For more than fifteen years I have been a professor of sociology at a public liberal arts college with an honors program. Advising students and seeing them graduate to pursue meaningful careers in education, science, and the arts is the most rewarding part of my teaching career. My daughter, who is a high school senior at a rural public high school, has completed several Advanced Placement courses and a dual enrollment course at a local college. In recent conversations, we have shared perceptions of the role of honors education in high school and college. Our different vantage points have led us to consider the purpose of Advanced Placement courses, the motivation of students who complete them, and what is in the best interest of students, honors programs, and colleges in awarding credit for AP and similar programs.