The Orangeburg Advanced College (OAC) program is a new opportunity for highly-motivated Orangeburg County School District (OCSD) students designed to advance future academic and career goals in a rigorous, yet supportive program. In partnership with Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College (OCtech), OCSD is thrilled to offer a character intensive, innovative curriculum for students in grades 9-12, who, upon successful completion, will earn both a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree without cost to the student or family.
Students will be selected for this advanced program through a process that considers academic performance, behavior, parent/legal guardian engagement, recommendations, personal essays, interviews, and self-reported interest and activities. To be considered for an interview, students must either be enrolled in or have successfully completed Algebra I and/or English I.
The Orangeburg Advanced College (OAC) is open to any rising ninth grade Orangeburg County Public School District student or any rising ninth grader who plans to enroll in the District for the 2021-2022 school year. The student must meet pre-requisite coursework requirements, have the academic discipline to pursue post-secondary coursework while in high school, and an interest in the program’s initial focus of Arts and Sciences.
Successful completion of Algebra I and/or English I is a pre-requisite for the OAC program.
As with many innovative educational pathways to a high school degree and beyond, the Orangeburg Advanced College is appropriate for a wide variety of young people, including those currently identified as Gifted and Talented as well as all other learners. Encountering the rigor, depth, and intensity of college work is beneficial to all students.
Students must complete a competitive application process for entrance into Orangeburg Advanced College for Arts and Sciences. A limited cohort of 25 students will be admitted into the program.
The OAC will offer an extension of the traditional high school program and emphasize academic preparation, support, and success in higher education. Based on research and practice about what helps underrepresented young people prepare for success in high school and postsecondary education, Orangeburg Advanced College will have three key features that promote success:
- Small size. The OAC will enroll small cohorts of students per year in the Arts and Sciences Program as well as the Manufacturing Program, once established. The program’s size will promote deepened student/teacher relationships.
- Aligned curricula and instruction for high school and college courses, with an emphasis on assessing students and aligning support based on the identified needs of individual students.
- Power of place. The early college will draw on the college environment and experience to build students’ identity as college goers.
Just The Facts
The Orangeburg Advanced College has the following characteristics:
- Students will apply for admittance into the program during their eighth-grade year.
- Small cohorts of students will be accepted into OAC’s Arts and Sciences track annually.
- Accepted students will have the opportunity to earn an Associate’s degree or up to two years of transferable college credits while in high school.
- Mastery and competence rewarded with the opportunity to earn two years of college credit without cost to the student or family.
- Learning will take place in a small learning environment that demands rigorous, high-quality work, while nurturing students through extensive support.
- Enrolled students will benefit from the academic and social supports characteristic of K-12 learning environments while pursuing highly rigorous college coursework.
- Technology will be used as a tool for designing and delivering engaging and imaginative curricula.
- Access to rigorous academic standards for both high school work and the first two years of college-level studies will be afforded to all students.
- The physical transition between high school and college will be eliminated and with it the need to apply for college and for financial aid during the last year of high school. After high school graduation, students may have either attained their Associate’s Degree and enter the workforce, continue to pursue remaining credits towards their Associate’s Degree at OCtech, or participate in the transfer program to other institutions of higher education.
Orangeburg Advanced College is Different
What sets the Orangeburg Advanced College apart from dual enrollment, Advanced Placement, and other pre-college programs is the reach and coherence of the blended academic program.
Early experience of college-coursework, yields multiple benefits:
- For students, better preparation for college and higher weighting for courses (similar to International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses);
- For institutions, lower remediation costs and higher retention; and
- For high schools, improved understanding of the demands of college and an expanded set of curricular offerings.
However, only Orangeburg Advanced College:
- Is open to currently enrolled eighth grade students and any current eighth grade students planning to enroll in Orangeburg County School District for the 2021-2022 school year;
- Fully integrates students’ high school and college experiences, both intellectually and socially;
- Enables students to earn up to two full years of college credit toward a degree while in high school;
- Blends the curriculum as a coherent unit, with high school and college-level work blended into a single academic program that meets the requirements for both a high school diploma and an Associate’s degree;
- Grants college credits through the postsecondary partner institution (OCtech) and enables students to accumulate the credits toward a degree from OCtech or to transfer them to another college.
- Students interested in further education at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), can rest assured that OAC’s curriculum aligns with the prerequisite requirements of MUSC through OCtech’s established MUSC Transfer program.
The Benefit of Earning College-Credit Early
While we recognize that a handful of occupations provide employees a liveable wage without requirement of post-secondary degree completion, two years of college is widely viewed as the minimum required to put young people on the road to earning a sufficient income. Even in fields that do compensate employees well for hard-work and learned skills, post-secondary credentials, and often times, an Associate or Bachelor Degree, are necessary for employees’ growth and leadership potential.
Researchers have identified a “20 credit threshold,” as a key breaking point between students who complete a college degree and those who never finish college. OAC students will have progressed well past this threshold upon graduation.
Source: Clifford Adelman, 2006. The Toolbox Revisited: Paths to Degree Completion from High School Through College. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education.
The application for enrollment in the Orangeburg Advanced College will be available on the District’s website, www.ocsdsc.org, at 9:00 a.m. Monday, March 15, 2021. Printed applications will also be available at any of the district’s middle schools and at the District Office (102 Founders Court in Orangeburg, 29118).
The application window will close on Friday, March 26, at 2:00 p.m. Complete Application Packets must be received by the deadline (March 26 at 2:00 p.m.). No applications past deadline will be accepted. Students currently enrolled in an OCSD middle school may submit completed packets to their school counselor. External applicants (students not currently enrolled in an OCSD middle school) must submit their packets to OCSD’s District Office located at 102 Founders Court, Orangeburg, S.C. 29118. Packets can be mailed or hand-delivered to the Attention of Dr. Veronica Scott, Director of Secondary Schools. Mailed materials must be postmarked on or before March 26, 2021.
No Cost to Students or Families
Orangeburg Advanced College will be available without cost to accepted students. OAC high school courses, as well as college-level courses taken on the campuses of OCtech, will be offered at no-cost to Orangeburg County School District students and will be absorbed by the school district and OCtech. Tuition assistance programs, including lottery funding, scholarships and other resources may be utilized by the partnering organizations, as available.
The Orangeburg Advanced College is a partnership between Orangeburg County School District (OCSD) and Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College (OCtech). Collaboration among postsecondary partners is key to the program’s design, as well as the day-to-day operation of early college high schools, which treat the high school years and the first two years of college as a single, coherent course of study.
Administrators and faculty from OCtech will participate in the OAC both formally and informally.
Post-secondary involvement will include participation in:
- School planning processes and governing boards;
- Curriculum committees;
- Syllabus planning activities;
- Co-delivery of courses with high school faculty;
- Provision of tutors;
- Mentors and student teachers; and
- The creation of “scaffolded” learning experiences, such as “bridge” courses to ease the transition to college-level work and mini-seminars for younger students.
High School Student Success in College-Level Coursework
Over the last decade, opportunities for high school students to earn college credit have expanded. The Orangeburg Advanced College is an innovative program different from other opportunities for high school students to engage in post-secondary studies, such as Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment, and more closely aligns to what is often referred to as an Early College or Middle College.
Advanced Placement courses and their college-credit bearing assessments offer post-secondary coursework in the high school setting already. Students earning a qualifying score of 3, 4 or 5 on the AP assessment may earn college-credit (if recognized by their college/university).
Students in Dual Enrollment programs remain formally enrolled in high school but take college courses, taught by either high school or college faculty, in classrooms located either at their high school or on a college campus.
A variety of postsecondary incentive programs reward students with no-cost or reduced college tuition for finishing some college work while in high school. Students at Middle College and Early College high schools have the opportunity to complete up to two years of a college program while still enrolled in high school.
Until recently, this educational terrain of college courses in high school belonged almost exclusively to a small, privileged group of young people: those whose families could afford private school, as well as those living in elite communities with well-funded public schools with large percentages of high-achieving students.
Now programs are more accessible to students from a wide range of backgrounds and with diverse prior accomplishments. These students are demonstrating remarkable success and are proving that the academic challenge provided by college-level courses can be beneficial and inspirational to a larger number of students. The most successful programs similar to OAC involve high school faculty and post-secondary partners working together to refine the instructional practices and wraparound support structures that move students from inspiration to true achievement.
Data from early college high schools are promising. Nationally, roughly three-fourths of the young people attending early college high schools are African American, and nearly 60 percent report eligibility for free or reduced-priced lunch (a conservative indication of the number of students from low-income families). Most students attending early college high schools will be the first in their families to go to college.
In contrast to alarming national data for students with similar demographic profiles, attendance rates for early college high school students average over 90 percent, indicating high levels of student engagement and commitment to the academic program. Grade-to-grade promotion rates in early college high schools also exceed 90 percent, and students have graduated with impressive results.
In 2010, 5,414 students graduated from early college high schools around the country. Their achievements far surpass those of their peers from traditional high schools serving similar populations.
The data shows that:
- More than 250 early college high school graduates earned merit-based college scholarships. Four earned the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship, awarded to 1,000 high-achieving, low-income students each year.
- 77% of graduates went on to some form of postsecondary education: enrolled in four-year colleges (52%), two-year colleges (23%), and technical programs (2%).
- Of 109 schools reporting data on graduates, more than half (56%) said that students had earned two or more years of college credit.
- The average graduation rate for early colleges was 84%, compared to 76% for their school district.
A team from the American Institutes for Research and SRI International is evaluating the process and outcomes associated with the Early College High School Initiative.
The first evaluation report, produced in 2004, provided initial descriptive information on the relationships among and characteristics of the partner organizations. Intermediate and summative outcome measures will be addressed in future year-end reports. The second evaluation report, produced in 2006, reported that early college high schools have high attendance rates and are successfully enrolling low-income and minority youth—and placing many in college courses. Although some students struggle with academically rigorous courses, almost all say they plan to attend college after high school.
The most recent evaluation report, produced in 2009, provided overall positive findings about the academic performance and experience of students attending early college high schools. It noted that many early college students from groups typically underrepresented in postsecondary education are succeeding academically. The findings were particularly promising for females and students from homes where English is not the primary language.
Branding for the collaboration has been established to support marketing for the program itself, and to build upon the strong brands of the partnering organizations. In the new mark, OCtech’s light blue complements the school district’s darker shade, as well as a vibrant orange. Typography, the use of lowercase and uppercase text, and bold fonts are intended to make the collaborative logo recognizable as subsidiary entities of each organization.
Perhaps most recognizable, the circular “C” from OCtech’s brand defines OAC’s icon. An orange circle creating the “O” for “Orangeburg” represents the continuation of student education and nurturing support from K-12 to post-secondary studies available through the Advanced College. The star from the school system’s mark hollows out the “O” and connects the “O” to the “A” symbolizing the partnering organization’s commitment to the success of each OAC student.