The move from high school to college can be tough. That’s true for everyone, even high-achieving honors students.  In fact, honors students often face unique challenges because of their ambition!  

Luckily, having a small cohort of students allows American Honors advisors to develop strong relationships with students. Knowing a student’s academic history, personality, and ambitions lets American Honors advisors offer students help before they even know they need it! Here are some of the key issues honors students face.

Not in Kansas Anymore

High-achieving students might not always take advantage of all the resources available.

High-achieving students might not always take advantage of all the resources available to them at a community college. Honors students are used to classroom success, good relationships with teachers, and confidence in their learning styles; when these students arrive at college, they are often shocked by the different level and approach to education.

More than a shock to their system, it could have an adverse effect on their confidence, their joy of learning, and their study habits. 

An Army of Support

American Honors connects with these students by using a modified version of split-model advising, where advising responsibilities are divided between academic departments and an advising center (or honors advisor). In our format, faculty contact the advisor should they see any red flags, and then the advisor follows up with the student and addresses the concerns.[1]

This practice goes for all types of students, but it may be extra important for honors students as they may hesitate to ask for help.

Help Before You Need It

High-achieving students may also experience difficulty adjusting their former study habits to meet the demands of college.[2] But there’s hope! The research shows it: “These changes will be difficult at first, but with [proper] support it will become manageable” [3].

Because there may be reluctance to visit an advisor during the first weeks of college, American Honors introduces our advising process during orientation and makes sure our team has an active presence on campus.  

Finding Focus

It can be difficult for bright, high-achieving students to limit themselves to one or two goals.

As they develop academically and move forward in their academic program, honors advisors assist students as their course requirements become more specific. Honors advisors know that it can be “difficult for bright, high-achieving students to limit themselves to one or two goals.” [4]  

In these cases, the honors advisor can list several academic avenues that meet the students’ interest and career goals, while faculty members can recommend specific upper level courses that will bring these goals to fruition and pique the students’ interest.

Community is Key

Some researchers suggest that high-achieving students may have difficulty socializing with others outside of their academic circle, so an introduction to programs and organizations outside the classroom assists in student development.[2] American Honors students have the benefit of connecting with their peers in class, in their Honors Lounge/Study Room, through the Honors club, and during campus events. Creating a close-knit unit of students not only leads to academic success but also builds a sense of community.

Because strong students in the classroom connect with strong students outside of the classroom, it is important that they find each other on campus and support each other as they navigate their first two years at community college and onward as they move on to four year institutions.

Still wondering what it's like to navigate college as an honors student? Read about a day in the life of an American Honors student.

[1] Johns, Lynne (2010). Background and references on developmental advising and advising models. Unpublished manuscript. Office of Instructional Support Services. Hudson Valley Community College, Troy, NY. Retrieved online.
[2] Robbins, Richard. (2010). Advising high-achieving students. EDCEP 835.
[3] Kunkle, Suzanne, Ph.D. (August 2009). Understanding & Supporting Your Medical School Student. Retrieved online.
[4] Hughey, K., Burton-Nelson, D., Damminger, J.K., McCalla-Wriggins, B., (2009). The Handbook of Career Advising, 244-247.

Authored by Elizabeth Coccia

Elizabeth earned her Masters in Higher Education to help student achieve their own dreams. She writes about what students need to do to be successful once they arrive at college.