National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council, 2022, 23(1): 29–31


Copyright © 2022 Mary Beth Messner


As part of the National Collegiate Honors Council’s (2022) collection of essays about the value of honors to its graduates (1967–2019), the author reflects on the personal and professional impacts of the honors experience.

Like many students who join Honors programs in college, I was first introduced to honors classes in high school. As someone who was identified as “gifted and talented” in elementary and high school, I was regularly at the top of my class academically as a child and adolescent. This earned me favor with both my parents and teachers, but it often alienated me from my peers. When you’re “that kid who always knows the answer” or “that kid who always gets an A,” you can be scorned by your peers rather than admired. While some individuals may thrive from this attention, I, like many others in similar situations, grew uncomfortable and tried to downplay a desire to learn and achieve in my effort to fit in with my classmates. Even within those high school honors classes, the competition for class rank and the implications for scholarships and college applications usurped the potential for camaraderie.