Bridge to college education

Easing the transfer process from technical colleges to four-year colleges is a great way to make a college accessible and affordable to more people and to keep talented South Carolinians in the state.

The University of South Carolina recently announced an agreement with the state's 16 technical colleges that will allow students at the tech colleges, including York Technical College, to transfer easily to USC. The program will go into effect next fall and could attract up to 500 students in the first year, according to USC officials.

While students always have had the option of attending a two-year technical college and then trying to transfer to a four-year institution, the process often can be complicated. Some courses may not be transferable, and students can face reams of red tape.

To be eligible for a transfer, students must complete 30 hours of general studies or earn an associate's degree and meet the university's admissions criteria. With this so-called bridge program, students at technical colleges will get help in choosing classes needed to transfer to USC. And USC, in turn, will provide help in making the transfer.

The bridge program can make college considerably more affordable. Typical tuition at a technical college is about $3,000 for two semesters compared with $8,300 for a school year at USC for full-time students.

York Tech is trying to establish similar programs with other four-year colleges and universities in the state. While this can be a boon to students of technical colleges, it also benefits four-year institutions that get students with a proven track record of achievement.

All in all, this is an excellent way to provide educational opportunities to talented students and create a better educated work force.