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District Partners with OCTech to Advance Student Access to College

At the regularly-scheduled School Board Meeting on Tuesday, February 9, 2021, Orangeburg County School District administrators shared with trustees information about a new opportunity for highly-motivated District students. In partnership with Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College (OCtech), the District has developed the Orangeburg Advanced College (OAC), a character intensive, innovative program for accepted students in grades 9-12, who, upon successful completion, will earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree without cost to the student or family.

The program is set to begin with its first cohort of students in the 2021-2022 school year. Any rising ninth grade Orangeburg County Public School District student who has met pre-requisite coursework requirements, has the academic discipline to pursue post-secondary coursework while in high school, and has an interest in the program’s initial focuses of Arts and Science will be encouraged to submit an application.

The competitive application process is set to begin in the coming weeks and up to 25 students will be selected for the cohort based on academic performance, behavior, parent/legal guardian engagement, recommendations, personal essays, interviews, and self-reported interest and activities.

Students accepted into Orangeburg Advanced College will remain officially enrolled in their “home” high school, maintaining eligibility for athletics, band, and club participation. During their 9th and 10th grade years, OAC students will engage in advanced coursework at their high school and college-level coursework at OCtech. Eleventh and 12th grade OAC students will be fully immersed in college coursework on OCtech’s campus.

“The small cohort size and guidance of our own K-12 counselors and teachers is intended to create a guided, nurturing experience to support students’ success in the level of rigor and depth required of post-secondary coursework,” Orangeburg Superintendent Dr. Shawn Foster commented.

OCtech has a strong history of preparing students for good jobs and great careers. Throughout that history, they’ve developed and maintained strategic partnerships within the community. For more than 40 years, the District’s schools have been one of the technical college’s largest partners.

“High school juniors and seniors, in many cases, have graduated with the first year of college completed, and have successfully continued their college career either at OCtech or at many of the other colleges and universities across the state,” OCtech President Dr. Walt Tobin commented. “Parents and students alike have long benefitted from this opportunity – beginning college-level work early and reducing the burden of student loan debt.  However, we are extremely excited about the Advanced College partnership with the district; students accepted into this program will graduate with their high school diploma and an associate degree from OCtech.  I’m thankful for Dr. Foster’s leadership in the development of this initiative, and I look forward to additional pathways for students who have the desire and ability to begin their post-secondary education early.”

School system and technical college leaders have been collaborating on the program for months and will officially culminate their collaborative work at a partnership signing next week.

The Partnership Signing Press Conference for Orangeburg Advanced College will be held in the Board Room of the School District’s Administrative Office, 102 Founders Court, on Thursday, February 18, at noon. Members of the press are invited to attend and will be encouraged to RSVP as admittance will be limited due to social distancing procedures; masks will be required. Media partners may RSVP to Public.Relations@ocsdsc.org.
Orangeburg Advanced College