Schenectady County Community College plans to offer an honors program next fall to attract academically talented students.
Eileen Abrahams, associate professor of liberal arts and chairwoman of the SCCC Academic Senate, said she envisions a program with interdisciplinary courses that could culminate with a field trip. For example, students studying Shakespeare in English and theater courses could take a trip to England to see the Globe Theater.
Carol DeFries, dean of the Division of Liberal Arts, said another component would be to incorporate ways that students can serve their community through what they are learning in the classroom.
She said she thinks the timing is perfect for the program. The number of students enrolled in the liberal arts program at SCCC increased from roughly 340 in 2008 to 534 this year.
“Clearly now, SCCC is a real valid choice for students who want to complete their first two years of [college],” she said.
The new College Suites at Washington Avenue student housing is another draw, according to DeFries.
Recruitment for the program will begin in December, she said. She and Abrahams will send out letters to the guidance offices of all regional high schools and establish a website. The goal is to have an initial group of about 20 incoming freshmen by June, so college officials can hold orientation sessions with them during the summer.
Abrahams said if they receive more than 20 students, they will start a waiting list.
The college is looking to attract students in the top 10 percent of their class. Prospective students will have to write essays and obtain recommendations from their high school teachers, according to DeFries.
“The students are going to have to jump through some hoops,” she said.
Abrahams will serve as program coordinator and academic advisor to these honors students. Another goal is to work with students to develop a strong portfolio of work that can be transferred to four-year colleges. SCCC is working on transfer agreements with a number of four-year schools.
It will also help the goal of retaining students, according to college officials.
SCCC Board of Trustees Chairwoman Denise Murphy McGraw said this initiative fits in with the goal of SCCC raising its profile and reputation.
“It’s a different place,” she said.