National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Fall 2008


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 9:2, Fall/Winter 2008. Copyright © 2008 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Do students who participate in an honors program have higher retention and graduation rates in comparison to otherwise similar nonparticipants? This is the question we address, and we do so within the context of the Honors College at the University of Maine. We present our investigation both as a contribution to the limited research in this area and as an illustration of the practical challenges one faces in doing applied work of this sort. Regarding the latter, one must be careful when comparing the retention and graduation rates of honors and nonhonors students because of differences between these two groups at the outset—especially differences in academic ability, for instance, that arguably are related to subsequent retention and graduation rates (e.g., Murtaugh, Burns, & Schuster, 1999). How, then, does one go about making such comparisons? We present our comparisons in several stages, differing in sophistication, thus showing how our results changed and, further, how these changes shaped our understanding of the relationship between honors participation at UMaine and retention and graduation rates.