The Daily Gamecock

Technical college transfer students guaranteed credit for core classes at USC, Clemson

<p>A sign for Midlands Technical College stands on Rosewood Drive on Feb. 6, 2024. The University of South Carolina will now grant 30 hours of core course credit to transfer students from the state's 16 technical colleges.</p>
A sign for Midlands Technical College stands on Rosewood Drive on Feb. 6, 2024. The University of South Carolina will now grant 30 hours of core course credit to transfer students from the state's 16 technical colleges.

USC announced last month that it has entered an agreement alongside Clemson University with the SC Technical College System to grant 30 hours of core course credit to students who transfer from the 16 technical colleges in the state.

The Statewide Transfer Partnership Agreement was finalized six months after the state legislature urged its schools to find ways to alleviate the cost of pursuing higher education, Tim Hardee, the president of the SC Technical College System, said.

“If we can have this transfer agreement to help students graduate early, then in my mind, it also means they have less student debt,” Hardee said.

When technical college students transferred to universities in the past, they often faced the possibility of losing some of their course credits and having to retake these courses again, Hardee said.

The agreement guarantees that 30 credit hours — equal to about one year of classes — will be granted by USC and Clemson to ensure that transfer students do not lose credit for the core classes they completed at their technical college. Not losing credits in the transfer process makes earning a bachelor's degree from USC or Clemson more affordable, Hardee said.

Hardee said the reason behind the 30-hour threshold is that students have usually met most of their general education requirements within that time period.

The agreement aims to provide "pathways" for students who choose to complete their first year at a technical college, Hardee said.

“You have some students that may not be ready for that transition from high school to all of the demands of entering as a freshman at USC or Clemson,” Hardee said. “For some students, taking that first year enables them to be better prepared maturity-wise and academically to be able to then be successful.”

Hardee said the agreement does not affect the specific courses required by different major programs, though. It only applies to general education courses.

It is possible for a student to receive more than 30 credit hours from a technical college, but it depends on the university's specific rules, Hardee said.

The agreement also has a reverse transfer option in which the university will send the transfer student’s transcript back to the technical college to show that they fulfilled the requirements for an associate degree. This allows the student to opt for an associate degree from the technical college if they choose.

Kallsen Wright, a second-year international business applicant and transfer student from Tri-County Technical College, said that the reverse transfer option will make future transfer students feel more secure at the university.

“If something happens, it’s not the end of the world. If money falls through, they can still get the degree, and so they’re not going to be spending nights trying to figure out, ‘How can I earn money to pay for this?’" Wright said. "But then, I can still drop down to a (technical college) and be successful. I don’t have to be here to make it work. It’s just about my own abilities."

Wright also said that the partnership is important for students who may not be able to pay for four years at a university.

“(The agreement) sets (students) up to be able to still get education and learn and not be held back by something they couldn't control growing up,” Wright said. “Lots of businesses today want a college degree, whether associate or bachelor’s, and not be held back by financial things is so big. We know a lot of people who just want to do it, but they’re not financially capable, so this is a big step to let them continue to pursue their dreams.”

Seth Hughes, a third-year public health student who completed dual enrollment courses at Central Carolina Technical College during high schoolsaid that the agreement is beneficial because it gives students of all financial backgrounds the opportunity to attend a large institution.

“Poor communities might not be able to send their students, especially if they’d be the first generation interested in schooling,” Hughes said. “I don’t think there’s necessarily a downside as long as you’re pro-education.”

USC and Clemson were the main targets of the new agreement because they are the largest institutions in the state, but Hardee said it will hopefully apply to other South Carolina schools in the future.

Hardee said his role as president of the state’s technical college system is to provide a highly qualified workforce, and part of doing that is by having more graduates — be it from a technical college or a university.

“Different students have different career paths. And what we're trying to do is, as a state, we can’t afford to have people on the sidelines. We need highly skilled individuals to meet the demands of the workforce of tomorrow,” Hardee said. “Another way for us to do that is making it more affordable.”