December 11, 2009
Honors College provides path from TC3
The program offers select TC3 students full scholarship, more rigorous coursework
Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
Tompkins Cortland Community College student Ben Eck tutors a classmate in math Tuesday in the Baker Commons tutoring center. Eck is a TC3 Honors College scholarship recipient.
DRYDEN — Ben Eck, Jonathon Van Orden and Andrea Turcsik wanted to attend Tompkins Cortland Community College for its lower cost, closeness to home and overall easier transition to college.
Being accepted for TC3’s Honors College helped even more.
Honors College is an academically rigorous program that offers a full scholarship to students and a stronger path to a four-year college if the student wants to transfer.
Honors College requires that students maintain a 3.5 grade point average while taking honors sections of English composition, literature, sociology and psychology. Usually they enroll in two of the courses for their first semester.
Students apply for the program as high school seniors. This semester, 12 students are on scholarship. This is the third year for the program, which is similar to honors programs at other community colleges.
Eck, a first-year student from Dryden, said he liked the fact that “this option virtually eliminated my financial problem. Full tuition is a gift that colleges don’t offer often, so I jumped at the chance.”
Turcsik, who is from Cortland, wanted to challenge herself while adjusting to college and preparing to receive her bachelor’s degree at a private university. She already had two semesters worth of TC3 credits, taken while she was at Cortland High School.
She said she did not know the program provided a full ride.
Van Orden, a Homer native, planned to attend TC3 even without a scholarship, because he wanted to remain close to home for now.
“It seemed like a more fruitful experience,” he said. “I would be commuting, on my feet and not worried about money, not dealing with the problems of living on campus,” he said. “And the cost would be less. It made sense to do it.”
The third and fourth semesters include honors seminars, with small group discussion and more in-depth work with faculty. Students also do an independent study.
“It’s pretty rigorous, and some students decide it’s too much work,” said Carol Morris, the program’s director and chair of the biology department. “They have to have a 90 percent average in high school, be in the top 15 percent of their class, and have an SAT score of 1,200 verbal and math or 1,800 with the writing part.”
Morris said 15 scholarships are available, 11 for the schools in Tompkins and Cortland counties, four for students from elsewhere.
The students must enroll full-time.
“We fully expect them to go on to a four-year college,” Morris said. “They are challenging themselves instead of getting by with the basics. They show colleges they are willing and capable.”
Eck and Turcsik said they will leave TC3 after this semester, while Van Orden plans to stay two years.
Eck, an environmental science major, plans to leave TC3 after the spring semester because he wants to major in wildlife science and the courses he needs are not offered at the college. He plans to attend Paul Smith’s College near Saranac Lake next year to finish his bachelor’s degree.
Eck said he thought the smaller classes at TC3 would help him.
“It has been challenging in that there is plenty of work to do and it is fairly rigorous,” Eck said. “But it has been helpful in that it gets me into good habits for studying and work ethic.”
Eck works as a math and science tutor for three hours per week at Baker Center for Learning.
Van Orden plans to transfer to Buffalo State College or SUNY Alfred after two years and study political science. He started out as a business administration major at TC3 but switched to social sciences, the closest thing TC3 offers to political science.
“Business was a different mind-set I wasn’t used to,” he said. “I was active in Youth in Government in high school, and really liked politics.”
Van Orden said the academic load has been easy to manage, except for an accounting course. He said his parents give him a great deal of latitude in living at home. Turcsik, a general studies major, will also leave TC3 after this semester. She will transfer to Onondaga Community College in Syracuse to study interior design, then transfer to either Syracuse University or Cornell University.
She said she is grateful to the Honors College program for giving her family a break financially as she considers SU or Cornell.
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