Torbett Benefits from CSCC's Advance Program

Torbett Benefits from CSCC's Advance Program

Holly Vincent
Friday, March 23, 2018 12:00 AM
Students, Academics

RICEVILLE, Tenn. - Travis Torbett was happy in his position as a production supervisor at Olin Chemical, but knew that one day he’d like to pursue a management role which would mean he’d have to have a college degree. With the encouragement of his production manager, he chose to enroll in Cleveland State’s Advance Business program. After one night a week for 16 months, Torbett graduated with his Associate of Applied Science in December.

Advance Business is the college’s accelerated program that offers students a quick and convenient way to obtain a college degree. This option is suitable for highly motivated and mature adults that are seeking an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Business with a Business emphasis. Many business students obtain their A.A.S. in 15-18 months at Cleveland State and a bachelor’s degree in two additional years at a selected four-year college or university.

According to Candice Patterson, Assistant Professor/ Co-Director of the Advance Business Program, the majority of Advance students are working adults and really thrive in this program because they are enrolled with their peers, those with similar responsibilities and obstacles. “Since students go through all of their classes as a group, they form really strong bonds and connections. At times, we have even seen these connections lead to job opportunities and / or job advancement.”

“I loved the timing of this program,” stated Torbett. “It really fit into my schedule. With a full-time job, two daughters, a wife and a lot of other activities going on, just having to come to class one night a week helped fit into my schedule, and the curriculum was excellent for my current job at work.”

As a production supervisor, Torbett said the human resources, budgeting and finance courses helped him to understand the accounting side of what it is that he does at Olin and the importance for budgeting in the plant. “I also enjoyed learning about the economical side of it, too—it just helped to understand how everything in the economy ties together. When we are making our products, how other parts of the economy dictate how well our production is, as well.”

“Travis was an excellent student,” stated Patterson. “He was motivated to not only complete the program and earn his degree, but to really put in the time and effort to ensure he was learning. He was an outstanding leader in his group and was always willing to take the extra step to succeed.”

Torbett stated, “My teachers were all great. They taught the courses to where we could all understand the material. They realized we were all working adults, so they didn’t overwhelm us to the point where we couldn’t stay caught up, but they did push us to the point where we had to gain the knowledge needed to learn.”

Torbett said he struggled with the decision to go back to school. He had been out of school for 15-16 years at the time, and he was nervous, but the constant encouragement from his instructors, as well as his peers, helped him get through it. Now, he finds himself doing a little bit of recruiting for CSCC—telling everyone he can about his experience with the Advance program!  

“Cleveland State was exactly what I was expecting and all that I was hoping for,” stated Torbett. “The instructors knew why we were there—we were not kids giving this a trial shot. We had all been working jobs for many, many years. We were all adults trying to better ourselves and better our opportunities within our current structures or trying to get to newer opportunities. The instructors did a very good job of making us feel comfortable and supporting us throughout this whole program.”

Torbett continued, “It makes me feel very accomplished that I finally finished my degree, and it made me strive for even more because it made me want to complete my bachelor’s degree.” Torbett will be attending Tennessee Wesleyan in the fall majoring in Management Excellence with a concentration in Industrial Management.

 The common factor for all Advance students is the relentless pursuit of a degree and the willingness to do what it takes to be successful. The benefits of the Advance Business program include attending class one night a week, completing the degree in a fast-paced format and working with the same group of students throughout the program. In a recent survey conducted of 2017 Advance students, 46 percent said that during the program, they had received a raise or promotion, which 62.5 percent anticipated receiving further incentives upon graduation.

Cleveland State will also be offering the Cleveland State Reconnect Scholarship, a scholarship for adults to earn an associate degree or technical certificate, tuition-free. In addition, CSCC has recently added many new and convenient scheduling options that are specifically designed for adult students, such as evening, weekend and online classes, as well as block scheduling.

For more information on the Advance program, visit the CSCC website at or call (423) 473-6224 for the main campus or (423) 745-8486 for the Athens Center. For more information on the Cleveland State Reconnect, contact Natalia Williams at (423) 478-6217 or email her at


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