USC, Midlands Tech building better bridge for transfer students

COLUMBIA -- Soaring demand for admission and rising academic requirements at the University of South Carolina are driving a new program between USC and Midlands Technical College.

That program will ensure the 350 to 400 students who transfer to USC each year remain competitive for admission.

"Our goal is simply to give students who want to attend the University of South Carolina better preparation with programs that will help them make the transition successfully, graduate with a four-year degree and be prepared for a successful career or graduate school," said Kip Howard, USC's assistant vice provost for enrollment management.

The program is designed to make sure the transfer students will meet minimum requirements for admission in years to come.

Students who elect to participate in the Bridge Program are allowed to enroll in USC after successfully completing 30 hours of general studies and meeting its academic criteria. Students also can enroll after completing an associate degree containing 60 hours.

The university announced a similar, university-wide initiative with Greenville Technical College in May.

USC sees transfers from the two-year technical colleges as a way to keep the percentage of South Carolina resident students high.

"USC is as committed as it has ever been to educating South Carolina's sons and daughters," USC president Andrew Sorensen said Tuesday as he and Midlands Tech president Marshall "Sonny" White Jr. announced the new program.

Sorensen said there are 1,000 more South Carolina resident students at the Columbia campus now than when he became president, and 2,005 more throughout the eight USC campuses.

Record numbers of students are wanting to enter the college.

USC received 15,000 applications this year for about 3,500 places in the fall freshman class, or 4.2 applications per opening.

White said Midlands Tech provides 20 percent of the transfer students to USC, including student body president Nicholas Payne.

Those transfers traditionally have had a high success rate at USC.

Transfer students tend to come from S.C. families in a higher proportion than in the pool of high school graduates admitted as freshmen. And many are the first generation of their families to attend college.

But with the demand for freshman admission driving up the requirements, university officials have tried to put in place a new level of cooperation and coordination with Midlands Tech.

Hundreds of students every year enter the state's two-year technical colleges because they did not meet minimum requirements for admission to USC. But a system of transfer credits has evolved that allows students to overcome that initial disadvantage and enter USC in their sophomore or junior year after improving their academic record.

Howard said the program packages some of USC's most successful student-oriented programs and services and formally expands them to the Midlands Tech for students who declare their intent to enroll at USC's Columbia campus.

Each fall semester will highlight programs that inform students about university policies and programs. Among these will be information on admissions, financial aid and scholarships and academic success.

Spring semester will include more details, including information on careers and the university's Career Center programs.

Fostering a closer relationship with transfer students and advising them from the start could also save students money and time.

USC and Midlands Tech already have 86 courses that are eligible for transfer without loss of credit. If students concentrate on those courses, they might save a semester or two of work and expense, Howard said.

"We want to make sure they are doing the right things from the start.

Reach Hammond at (803) 771-8474.