DD2 students who earn 60 credit hours through the district’s Early College Program (ECP) now can receive automatic acceptance as a junior to Charleston Southern University.
DD2 Superintendent Joe Pye met with CSU President Jairy Hunter, Jr. and the Dean of the School of Education George W. Metz on June 23 to sign an agreement that allows ECP students to use the credits they earn through Trident Technical College to not only earn entrance into CSU, but also an associate degree from Trident Tech and college credits towards a four-year degree, if they so choose.
“We want to make sure we offer equal opportunity for our students,” Pye said.
The 2016 Early College Cohort began in summer 2013, with DD2 partnering with Trident Technical College to allow students to complete their high school diplomas concurrently while completing general education credits toward a two-year college degree.
The whole idea is to get students ready for college and the workforce at an earlier age, said DD2 Assistant Superintendent Sean Alford.
“That’s what we’re all about here in DD2 – equity and access,” Alford said.
There are 125 hours required for the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degrees at CSU. The Early College Program provides the opportunity for students to complete 60 of these credits. CSU will provide academic counseling and information on transferring for interested students. Majors included in this agreement include criminal justice, psychology, elementary education, graphic design and mathematics. In addition, other majors will be included to meet the individual student’s needs, such as programs associated with sciences, technology and engineering.
The partnership will also allow students and their families to save time and money on college tuition; the program is free for students.
Hunter said the partnership also provides opportunities to students who could commute to CSU and also hold down a job while they are in school.
“A number of students work while they go to school,” he said. “I found with our local students is they have an advantage to the workplace because they have work experience on their resume. They already have a connection to the workplace.
“These are just the opportunities we need to be working on,” Hunter added. “Our students deserve it.”
The program starts with rising sophomores, who begin ECP classes in the summer. Classes are taught by Trident Tech instructors. In order to participate in the program students go through a “rigorous” interview process, Pye said; students have their overall academic performance reviewed and they must also receive evaluations from teachers.
DD2 officials are hoping to have 270 program completers by the time the first set graduates in 2016 – 30 students, per grade level, per high school.
Hunter said getting students ready for the workforce is challenging, but this new initiative will greatly help students.
“I think we’ve got something here that’s on the right track,” he said.