My colleague, Stacey Kiser, recently shared an article from The Chronicle of Higher Education: “Honors Colleges Promise Prestige, but They Don’t All Deliver.” While the Lane Honors Program is not focused on prestige, aspects of the article do relate to our program. The article accurately claims that some honors colleges may promise a lot to students but not fulfill their promises.
Honors colleges are not always fully supported by their institutions, and without that support, they simply can’t provide all the services and opportunities to the students who attend them.
The same can be said of honors programs. Without adequate support, and as my colleague Elaine Thompson has pointed out, a clear sense of where the program fits within the institution’s organizational framework, it is challenging to offer the necessary academic and co-curricular opportunities to students.
The Lane Honors Program has had support from the college, but the amount and form of this support has changed several times over the past five years. The result is that our enrollments have decreased and many honors students transfer before they complete the program. The students who complete the program and transfer report back that the program had a significant impact on their success at their university, which makes those of us working on honors at Lane even more determined to see this program thrive.
In fall of 2015, the college demonstrated its increased support of the program by creating the full time faculty coordinator position that I now hold. This spring, the Honors Leadership Team and a special work group are overseeing the restructuring of the program to help students more successfully navigate the program and to ensure that they are able to complete the program before transferring. We are exploring several possibilities: instituting a version of the guided pathway model, offering honors classes during fall and spring, and running the honors seminars in the winter.
I’m excited about the growing energy around honors education at Lane. I appreciate that colleagues are stepping up to offer new honors classes and to participate on the leadership team and work group. With the college’s commitment to increased marketing, we will be able to raise student awareness of the program. With the changes to the program’s structure, more students will be able to complete the program and take advantage of its transfer agreements with four-year schools.