National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version

Fall 2021


Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, 2021, 22(2):11–18


© Copyright 2021 by the National Collegiate Honors Council


Honors is unusual not because it is elitist or exclusionary but because it responds directly, thoughtfully, and creatively to the needs and concerns of each new cohort of students. The present generation of college students expects their institutions to deliver clear value, rich diversity, and positive career outcomes; and these changes demand a better business model in higher education. This essay suggests that, too often, institutions confuse a better business model with cutting costs, a confusion that both threatens honors education and undercuts institutional integrity. A better and more sustainable approach is to define, articulate, and deliver the value of higher education to all students, and thereby justify and advocate for its necessary costs. At a time when much of higher education seeks to move past the pandemic and return to normal, honors educators can and should help reframe conversations about programmatic and institutional survival by defining and arguing for a business-as-unusual approach. Building on the creative approaches that honors programs and colleges have taken to engage students during the pandemic, the author explores how honors educators can help their institutions prepare all students for an increasingly uncertain future.