Counselor/District Office Information

General Information

Background
The basic design for Connect to College (C2C) is based on the nationally recognized Gateway to College model, developed in 2000 by Portland Community College (PCC). Our program, which enrolled its first class of students in August 2006, was launched with funding from Portland Community College via a three-year replication grant awarded to PCC by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

In September 2011, the program's executive committee (comprised of the superintendents of all seven area school districts, the president of Tri-County Technical College, and three members of the Tri-County Technical College Commission) took action to formally recognize the changes that had occurred in the local program over the years by changing the program's name and separating from the Gateway to College National Network.

Program Overview
Applicants go through a multi-phased admission process so staff can (to the best of our ability) accept those who are the right "fit" for Connect to College. The program is definitely not appropriate for every young person who's having difficulty in high school or who has actually dropped out. It works best for those who have a strong enough academic background to ramp up quickly in order to handle college-level courses. (Connect works on a dual credit approach - students earn both high school and college credit based on successful completion of college courses. Students take day courses primarily on the Pendleton Campus but may, with permission, take day or evening courses on any of Tri-County's campuses. Students may also, with permission, take online courses through the SC Virtual School Program. Courses taken through SCVSP are for high school credit only.) See FAQs for more information.

The program covers the costs for tuition and textbooks. Students are required to pay College fees each semester and to cover their own costs for transportation, child care, and supplies. Students must also pay any debts they owe to Tri-County Technical College (such as library fines and parking fines). There is no financial assistance available to offset the cost of fees, transportation/child care, supplies, or fines.

Connect to College does not provide van or bus transportation.

Program Goal
The goal of Connect to College is to graduate each student in the most time-efficient manner possible with a high school diploma and a postsecondary credential (or significant college credit), and to transition the student successfully into further higher education and/or meaningful, family-supporting employment.

Academic Program
During the first semester, students take COL 103 (College Skills) along with three other courses that correspond to their educational plan and for which they meet the academic prerequisites. Students who need to brush up in basic skill areas (reading, mathematics, English) will be registered for Comprehensive Studies courses during the first semester so they receive the academic foundation needed for success in subsequent terms.

There are no special classes for C2C students at Tri-County Technical College. All classes are regular college classes taught by college faculty. Connect students are integrated into these classes along with other Tri-County students. (Sometimes there will be several C2C students in the same section of a course but there are no sections only for Connect students. The only exception is SFT 109 [Lifetime Fitness and Wellness], which is the college-level course used to meet the Physical Education unit requirement for the high school diploma. SFT 109 is restricted to Connect students only.)

During the second semester and beyond, students typically take four courses (two courses in the summer term), according to their individual needs as outlined in their educational plan. These courses may be required to meet prerequisites (like needing to complete a basic math class with a grade of "C" or higher before registering for the next level course), to meet high school requirements, to meet college degree or transfer requirements, or a combination.

Records, Grade Reports, and Other Data
At the end of each semester, the Registrar's Office at Tri-County generates official transcripts for Connect to College students. The C2C Office Manager picks up the transcripts (and signs for them), sorts them by district/school, and arranges to have them mailed to the director of guidance at the appropriate high school.

A grade/course equivalency summary is also prepared and distributed to each school along with the official transcripts. Staff from the Registrar's Office and the Connect to College Office work diligently to ensure that processes involving student/grade data maintain appropriate confidentiality.

Staff from each school and district office have a Doc Exchange account where they can access information and reports via a password-protected portal.

Support Services and Follow-Up
Each student in Connect to College is assigned to a Support Specialist who serves as a mentor and academic advisor. (The program has three staff members with Support Specialist duties - the director, the part-time instructional/testing specialist, and the full-time Support Specialist.)

Support Specialists are essentially case managers and maintain close contact with their students throughout their time in the program - during the semesters needed to complete the high school diploma and during subsequent semesters, if needed, to complete a postsecondary credential and/or to transfer to a senior college.

Support Specialists are responsible for developing and maintaining a customized Education Plan (EP) that lists exactly which Tri-County Technical College courses are required for completion of the high school diploma. In a few cases, the Support Specialist may identify an online course through S.C. Virtual School Program in order to expedite progress toward the diploma. In creating the EP, the Support Specialist purposefully blends requirements for the high school diploma with requirements for a postsecondary credential so that the student maximizes his/her time and effort. However, requirements for the high school diploma receive top priority in academic planning. (For example, a student might prefer to take a series of occupational electives rather than core requirements in math or English. The Support Specialist will prioritize course selections to ensure reasonable progress is being made toward the diploma.)

While Connect to College offers the flexibility of college scheduling, which many students find attractive, especially if they are employed, Support Specialists register students for full course loads each semester. Exceptions require special permission. (Students are also required to continue enrollment during summer terms, although course loads are often lighter.)

All C2C students are encouraged to take advantage of the College's regular academic support services. In addition, they have the benefit of specific services available only through the Connect to College program:

  • Academic Success Lab (ASL) - daily academic support time for individualized help with assignments, prep for future courses, review work for problem areas. (Students can use ASL to access Odyssey, C2C's supplemental online software for review or prep in 10 core subjects from basic math to college-level economics.) Academic Success Lab is facilitated by an educator certified at the secondary level.
  • Study Groups - weekly pre/review sessions for 5-7 students in core subjects facilitated by an adjunct instructor or other academically qualified individual.
  • Tutoring - individualized sessions (or for 2-3 students) in core subjects coordinated by an adjunct instructor or other academically qualified individual.
  • Mentoring - individual sessions with College or community role models.
  • Mentoring/advising (individualized) - regularly scheduled, individualized sessions with Support Specialists.
  • LIFE 101 workshops - sessions of interest to students (parenting, healthy relationships) as well as skill-building in leadership and other skills that foster success in any academic or work environment

Graduation
Support Specialists are responsible for tracking student progress toward high school graduation. Once the student is within 1-2 terms of graduation, the records are turned over to the full-time Support Specialist who also serves as C2C's Graduation Coach. She is responsible for working closely with the appropriate school officials to be sure all details are handled appropriately and efficiently.

Once all the proper paperwork has been submitted and processed, the student is awarded the high school diploma during Tri-County's regular commencement ceremony. The College has two ceremonies each year - one in May and one in August. (Connect students can, and do, graduate in December. Depending on the number of graduates, there may be a special ceremony for them or they may march in the May ceremony.) During the graduation ceremony, the principal or superintendent from the student's sponsoring high school actually awards the diploma. The president of Tri-County Technical College and other dignitaries also participate in the ceremony and personally congratulate each graduate. If the graduate is simultaneously receiving a postsecondary credential, he/she marches twice - once with the students graduating through Connect and again with other Tri-County students who are receiving the same postsecondary credential.

If a graduate through C2C needs additional credit to complete his/her postsecondary credential or to transfer, his/her Support Specialist will work to ensure a smooth transition into a "regular" college student status. Among the most important services is making sure the student receives all available financial aid that he/she qualifies for as a high school graduate. Even though the student has transitioned into a "regular" college student status, Connect staff are still a resource. Our grads are always part of the "Connect to College family!"

Questions?
If you have questions or want/need additional information about Connect to College, please contact:

Ms. Diana M. Walter, Director
Connect to College
Tri-County Technical College
P.O. Box 587, 7900 Highway76
Pendleton, SC 29670
Phone: (864) 646-1504
Email: dwalter@tctc.edu
Office: Pickens Hall, room 125 (Pendleton Campus)

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