College to start honors program

CCC to offer classes in 2007 aimed at building network of top full-time students


Carroll Community College will launch an honors program designed for top students beginning in the fall of 2007.

The Hill Scholars Program will provide an opportunity for groups of 20 to 24 full-time students to progress through their first two years of college together in classes offered specifically for them.

"We know we're getting a bunch of high-achieving students here," said Candace Edwards, coordinator of admissions at Carroll Community College. "We decided to tailor a program to meet their specific needs."

With the introduction of Hill Scholars, Carroll places itself among the forefront of Maryland community colleges offering academically-intensive honors programs, said Barbara Ash, research director for the Maryland Association of Community Colleges.

"What we have found is students all over the country who are good, solid students are choosing community college for the first two years," said Kristie Crumley, math faculty at Carroll Community College and director of the honors program.

"I think that students have realized that [the] classes are not easier," Crumley said. "It's just at community college, we only offer basically the first two years' worth of courses."

Integral to the program are the connections that students will make with classmates, faculty and staff, Crumley said.

For each of their first three semesters, the students will share two honors classes and one seminar. The last semester will have one honors class and a seminar.

"To put 20 of these students together as a group and build a community of learners, that has so many benefits: the safe environment to take some risks, the study groups that just happen [and] the comfort level in the classroom with both peers and faculty," Crumley said.

Bonding with faculty outside of the classroom is also important, Edwards said.

"The strongest indicator of success for students is relationships they develop within the first semester or two with faculty and staff mentors," Edwards said. "This program is really going to foster that, along with their team building and leadership skills that will really allow them to be successful."

Much of the development of those skills will occur in the seminar courses, which will meet for one hour a week. Two seminars will focus on career development and service learning.

"Our hope is for that [service learning] seminar course, the students will pick their own community project that they want to pursue, and hopefully take all of these interesting things that we've done and put it toward a capstone," Crumley said.

By creating an honors program, a two-year institution can provide for its students in a manner that overcomes other amenities and opportunities that might not otherwise be available, said Barbara Greenfeld, associate vice president of enrollment services and director of admissions and advising at Howard Community College.

Greenfeld is the co-creator of the James W. Rouse Scholars Program at Howard Community College, an honors and leadership offering founded in 1992 and similar in design to Carroll's Hill Scholars.

"It puts students into a situation where they have close bonds with [other] students ... in a way that community colleges can't provide because they don't have dormitories or fraternities, and not everyone has full athletic programs," Greenfeld said. "It creates a learning community with a staff that knows the students very well, and it sort of transcends any particular course."

Benefits from an honors program reach beyond students' freshman and sophomore years at their community college, officials at Howard and Carroll said.

Both colleges have set up working relationships with local four-year colleges in which the schools recognize the academic reputation of potential transfer students from their programs.

"We hope that they're going to get a really good start by coming here [and] participating in this program," Edwards said.

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