Who Benefits from Honors: An Empirical Analysis of Honors and Non-Honors Students’ Backgrounds, Academic Attitudes, and Behaviors

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Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council


Supporters of university honors programs argue that these programs benefit the university and entire student body while critics argue that honors programs reproduce socioeconomic and racial privileges. In an attempt to address these issues, we have used quantitative survey data to compare the background characteristics, behaviors, and attitudes of honors and non-honors students at a medium-sized public university in the Southeast. Our findings indicate racial and gender differences between the two groups but similarities in economic backgrounds. We have also found that honors students differ significantly from their non-honors peers in academic and behavioral measures. We believe that our findings support the argument that honors programs bring benefits to the entire educational system rather than simply creating a privileged class of students and that honors programs are thus worthy of the financial resources that institutions commit to them.


Copyright © 2014 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.