Attracting exceptional young scholars is a goal of most if not all universities. Exceptionally bright, motivated students who perform at high levels cultivate strong leaning experiences for university communities. The students of many honors programs and colleges usually take the same classes as regular students. But, to the extent that students of honors colleges and programs are isolated among themselves – by way of exclusive classes or activities or living quarters – the overall benefits might accrue in isolation, while at the same time, can also be a drain on quality academic environment for the larger student population who otherwise would benefit from more interaction with exceptional students. Further to that end, Michael Harris, in one of his blogs about his experience teaching in an honors college, expressed concern over a "have and have-not" academic experience that honors programs tend to cultivate. Harris harbored another concern that some of the new-found (post-1960) enthusiasm over honors colleges and programs were driven more by consumerism, albeit a type of consumerism that was antithetical to altruistic efforts towards elevating learning experiences and academic excellence.
In a previous post, Based on Academic Reputation Alone, Publics Would Be Higher in U.S. News Rankings , we write that many public universities have a reputation in the academic community that is much higher than their overall ranking by U.S. News. In this post, we will summarize the reasons that prospective honors students and their parents might consider paying more attention to academic reputation than to other factors in the oft-cited rankings. The list also facilitates comparisons of public and private universities.