Smaller classes lure prospective students to MTSU ...

Smaller classes lure prospective students to MTSU Honors College

Alyssa Puff graduated in December from Hazel Green High School in Huntsville, Alabama. For postsecondary education, she was courted by “Harvard, Vanderbilt and 150 other schools,” her mother, Judy Finley said.

They came to Murfreesboro  Feb. 19 to attend the Honors College Presidents’ Day Open House at MTSU, where Puff said she will go to school “because MTSU is what felt right” after considering all schools and their offers.

MTSU Honors College Dean John Vile, standing, discusses the options available to prospective students who pursue an education through the University Honors program during the annual Presidents Day Open House Feb. 19 in the Student Union Ballroom. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

More than 250 fellow high school students and their families attended the open house.

For prospective students, the University Honors College provides the academic excellence and nurturing environment of a small, select, private liberal arts college within the setting of a major university. It also provides expert faculty, unique curricular and extracurricular experiences and publishes its own award-winning arts and literary magazine, “Collage.”

Andrew Hendricks, 18, of Lebanon, Tennessee, a Lancaster Christian Academy senior and recipient of the $4,000 annual MTSU Presidential Scholarship, plans to major in computer science. He said he likes the Honors College because of its “class size — they aren’t that large — and more interaction” among students.

Dara Zwemer, 18, of Lascassas, Tennessee, a recipient of MTSU’s highest academic award for incoming freshmen, the Honors Buchanan Fellowship, said the scholarship will allow her “to explore different things.” The Oakland High senior and International Baccalaureate student plans to study psychology.

Adviser Tamika Mitchell, right, provides information about the MTSU University College for undecided and undeclared students to Sophia Jaeger, 18, a homeschooled student with Homelife Academy, and her mother, Kathleen Jaeger, Feb. 19 during the Honors College Presidents Day Open House in the Student Union. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

Taylor Ball of Manchester, Tennessee, a Coffee County Central High School senior planning to study speech pathology, has been ready to attend MTSU “since the second day of her senior year,” according to her mother, Jeanne Ball.

“I heard the undergraduate clinicals are the best here,” added Taylor, a recipient of the $5,000 annual Trustee Scholarship. “I have job-shadowed with multiple speech pathology facilities, and they all have told me that.”

Home-schooled Gabrielle Thornton, 17, of Lyles, Tennessee, was visiting with her parents — mom, Becky, and dad Jeff Thornton, an MTSU alumnus. Still settling on a major, Gabrielle missed out on a Buchanan scholarship, “but I’m happy with the Trustee (Scholarship) … and I’m excited because I know there are going to be a lot of new opportunities.”

Honors College senior Tatum England provided a student perspective and advice for the guests, including “choosing an environment where you can grow.” She is a senior majoring in community and public health and minoring in chemistry, biology and psychology.

The Office of Admissions joined the Honors College in hosting the event. All of the university’s colleges, the Office of Housing and Residential Life and the MTSU Parent and Family Association also shared information with the visitors.

The visit included tours of the James E. Walker Library, the Department of Aerospace‘s air traffic control tower simulator, and the Department of Recording Industry‘s facilities inside the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building, along with a “mad science” physics demonstration with Dr. Eric Klumpe of the Department of Physics and Astronomy and mock trial demonstrations.

The open house also included an option to attend the spring Honors Lecture Series talk for the day, “Lest We Forget the Heterogeneity of Blackness: The Art of Pursuing Health Equity in Post-Black America,” from Derek Griffith of Vanderbilt University’s Center for Medicine, Health and Society and Dr. Gloria Wilson of MTSU’s Department of Art and Design.

Admissions also is offering two upcoming MTSU Preview Days — Saturday, Feb. 24, and Saturday, March 24.

To register for any preview day or other special events, visit Preview day events begin in the Student Union Building, 1768 MTSU Blvd. To find buildings and parking, visit

MTSU has more than 240 combined undergraduate and graduate programs.

MTSU Department of Physics and Astronomy professor Eric Klumpe entertains a University Honors College Presidents Day Open House crowd with a standing waves demonstration in the Student Union Building Parliamentary Room Feb. 19. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)