First day proves successful for bridge program students
The Roost parking lot bustled with energy Monday afternoon. Athletes walked to a track meet, construction crews poured concrete for the new softball stadium and Gamecock Gateway students arrived by shuttle from their first day of classes at Midlands Technical College.
Gamecock Gateway, a new bridge program that's allowed first-year students to live on campus while taking classes at Midlands Tech, has enrolled 157 of those students. They'll have to maintain a 2.25 GPA, complete 30 credit hours and stay in good conduct and financial standing at both schools.
If they do, they will be admitted as full USC students next fall.
In the meantime, restrictions keep them from joining social fraternities and sororities, playing on USC sports teams and becoming officers in student organizations. Their CarolinaCards list them as "student affiliates" and they cannot request football, baseball or basketball tickets.
But despite these restrictions, administrators say keeping students involved in the USC community will be a crucial part of the fledgling program.
"We have done a lot to ensure that our students are at ease as they navigate through two worlds, not just one," said Drew Newton, Gamecock Gateway's USC coordinator.
Their first few days on campus weren't too unlike other students', either.
"They were invited to First Night Carolina, they had two days of orientation, one of which was devoted to USC and they spoke to the student body president," said Chris Presley, residence hall director for The Roost, where the Gateway students live.
USC's been providing the transportation to Midlands Tech's Airport Campus, as they've been running shuttles every 15 minutes during a two-week trial period with USC's Vehicle Management determining the program's demand and peak hours.
Talon Vick, a first-year music student, said he enjoyed his first day of classes.
"The shuttle system runs smoothly, classes went well and there's a lot of community," he said.
That community was a big emphasis for Student Body Vice President Chase Mizzell, who spoke to students Monday afternoon in the Bates West Social Room about getting involved on campus and encouraged them to "try something different."
Alvie Vereen, a first-year computer science student, took that message to heart.
"I'll try boxing first, then the cooking club," she said.
They're also enrolled in their own freshmen enrichment program, College 105. The class discusses USC culture, AlcoholEdu and Midlands Tech's academic resources.
And while most of the students have transitioned well to living in the Roost, there was at least one move-in day hiccup.
"When I first walked into my room it smelled like mildew, the window was leaking and then I locked myself in the bathroom because the door handle snapped off," said Ashley Shannon, a first-year exercise science student. "My RM had to come kick down the door."
Other problems were, perhaps, more relatable
"I woke up on time for classes," said Zoe Luhrs, a first-year sociology student, "but then I felt I had to lay down for a few more minutes."
She was late to her first class.