Date of this Version
Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Fall/Winter 2016).
Honors students have long entered college with Advanced Placement credits already on their transcript, but in recent years the number of these credits has increased dramatically. At the same time, the more recent phenomenon of dual enrollment credits has ballooned. In a recent article called “As Dual Enrollments Swell, So Do Worries about Rigor,” Katherine Mangan writes, “Fueled by desires to cut college costs and improve access to underserved students, enrollment in dual-credit classes has been growing at a clip of about 7 percent a year nationally” (The Chronicle of Higher Education, 5 Aug. 2016, A8). While the possibility of decreased rigor is an institutionwide concern, honors programs and colleges confront the additional concern that, because the credits that students bring with them when they matriculate are concentrated in the liberal arts, incoming students have already fulfilled some, many, or most requirements of a traditional honors curriculum. Consequently, students who would otherwise be excellent candidates for honors are choosing to take the more cost-efficient route toward a diploma and to bypass honors. While some honors administrators might choose to see this trend in a positive light as a way to weed out students who want the status but not the challenge of an honors education, most are struggling to adapt to the trend’s challenges to curricular integrity, academic rigor, diversity, and even survival within the numbers-driven context of higher education today.