National Collegiate Honors Council


Date of this Version



Published in Innovations in Undergraduate Research and Honors Education: Proceedings of the Second Schreyer National Conference 2001, ed. Josephine M. Carubia & Renata S. Engel. Copyright © 2004 The National Collegiate Honors Council.


Are honors programs across the country obligated to increase the percentages of minority students enrolled in their programs? Is it necessary that honors programs prepare their members to work in a global economy with its many facets and features? The answers to both of these questions may seem obvious. However, very little research has been done to examine why there is such a disparity between whites and students of color enrolled and actively participating in honors programs at majority institutions across the United States. Consequently, many college and university honors programs fail to experience the benefits and advantages that may be found within a culturally diverse honors student population. This paper chronicles the results of a study that was piloted at the University of Connecticut by a first-year doctoral student. In order to fulfill the requirements for an Introduction to Multicultural Education Research course, the student investigated why students of color at the University of Connecticut may be reluctant to enroll in the university's honors program. The study included a small sample (n=6) of a population of 831 students. Participants in the study were interviewed and asked questions about their honors experiences and whether or not they believed their honors program maintained a vested interest in diversity issues. Students were also asked to identify perceived barriers that might prevent more students of color from participating in honors, though they may be eligible. The results of the study were divided along racial lines and may have broader implications for other majority campuses as well. Though relevant literature that addresses honors and diversity issues is limited, two pertinent resources are included in this paper. Honors program administrators may find these documents to be particularly instructive, if indeed increasing representation among students of color within their honors programs is a priority.