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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    SBU’s Honors College Grows in Stature and Recognition.

    National ratings show thatLong Islandhas the highest concentration of the best public high schools in the nation. So it is understandable why it’s important for those running Stony Brooks’HonorsCollegeto be well received by the local community when they seek to recruit high achieving students from SBU’s own backyard.’

    Over the past 13 years of theHonorsCollege‘s existence, it has slowly made a concerted effort to improve its reputation.’ Making a name for itself not only at SBU, but also among its peers in higher education allows theHonorsCollegeto compete for the best high school graduates.

    Not less than four years ago many of Long Island’s top graduates considered Stony Brook, even it’s Honors College, as a safety school in case they didn’t get into their top choice.’ Though it still may not be a student’s number one choice, for those that live inNassauand Suffolk Counties the university is becoming a viable second choice.

    “I don’t think that we need to act as a safety school,” said Laurie Fiegel, the College’s administrative director.’ “There should be no stigma that I’m coming to Stony Brook.”

    For their part, those in charge of the Honors College feel that there is a lot to offer incoming students, especially when one considers that the $14,000 price tag to live on campus is still less than half of what it would cost to attend a private university.

    “My belief is that Stony Brook [University] as a whole, and the Honors College in particular, delivers the most bang for the buck,” said Chair of the Honors College Richard Gerrig, Ph.D. “People waste a long of money sending students to second rate private institutions when they could send [their child] to a first rate public school.”

    What perhaps makes it an even better deal is that those who are part of theHonorsCollegereceive substantial scholarship support and for a select few their four-year stay is free.’ On top of that,HonorsCollegestudents take 19 credits worth of small, specialized classes together along with a yearlong independent research project in place of the Diversified Education Curriculum.’ Among other things, they also receive priority registration and personalized academic counseling.’

    But to have access to these privileges students must be very high achieving at the high school level.’ TheHonorsCollege‘s published minimums are a 93 un-weighted grade point average and a combined score of 1250 on the SAT.’ Although a random sampling of the College’s students shows that the actual numbers are a bit higher.’

    Citing several different reasons, both Gerrig and Fiegel insisted that the college’s admissions committee does not base its admittance solely on the numbers.’ All applicants have to submit at least one essay, and special talents, experiences and leadership skills that could be of benefit to the entire class are also considered.

    “We’re looking for students that are generally strong across the board,” said Gerrig.’

    “We’re looking for students that are sincere…It turns out that diversity comes in because you get people that are genuine.”

    Each year, theHonorsCollegeadmits roughly 20 percent of its applicants, Fiegel said.’ That translates to anywhere between 200-300 “high achieving and promising” students.’ By the time September rolls around, a class of 60 students broken down into three sections of 20 emerges from the 1,500 or so students that originally applied.

    Although there is an optional space for race on the application, Fiegel said that very few applicants elect to fill it out and that no overt attempt is made to admit applicants based on race or gender.’ In spite of that the classes tend to have an equal ratio of men to women and are comprised of students with very different backgrounds. The myriad of high schoolers from the Island and the greater tri-state area offer what Gerrig calls a “diversity of interests.”

    At the end of the day, many of the College’s students admit that they came to SBU only because of the Honors College, and leave very pleased with their Honors College experience.’

    Fiegel points to the College’s placement numbers as a measure of the program’s success.’ Of the approximately 400 alumni that have graduated from the College, 95 percent of them end up going to professional or graduate schools. Gerrig believes that the College’s unique approach factors into this success.’

    “Our mission isn’t just the educational aspect,” he said. ‘It’s the social, too.’ We try to get [our students] to grow as a community.”

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