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The College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES) at South Dakota State University (SDSU) has the second lowest Honors College student enrollment compared to all other colleges in the university. This study explores factors that deter CAFES students from enrolling or continuing with Honors and potential opportunities to encourage enrollment and retention. A QuestionPro survey and focus groups were utilized in collecting responses from first-year CAFES students on their awareness of the Honors College’s automatic enrollment, factors that deter students from pursuing Honors, and opportunities. Survey responses (n=59) were reported as percentages. Randomized focus groups were created from the pool of survey participants and split into Honors and non-Honors sections. Data from both surveys and focus groups indicate the main factors deterring CAFES students from pursuing Honors include class schedule concerns, a lack of necessity for Honors in their intended career paths in agriculture, and a lack of CAFES-specific Honors courses. Furthermore, a gap in knowledge about the Honors College and its enrollment qualifications exists amongst CAFES students; a majority of students would potentially pursue Honors if more opportunities within CAFES were offered, such as informational sessions and Honors-specific CAFES courses. This supports the proposed curriculum requirements the Honors College is in the process of obtaining approval for and suggests that adding CAFES-specific Honors courses may help improve Honors College participation by CAFES students.

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South Dakota State University


Higher Education

Honors College Retention in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental



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