COLUMBIA — Some students who fail to get into the University of South Carolina’s main campus in Columbia will get automatic acceptance letters into one of the system’s two-year campuses starting next spring.
By 2015, the college could also give automatic acceptance letters to the college’s four-year branch campuses in Aiken, Beaufort and Spartanburg, The State newspaper of Columbia reports Sunday.
Currently, the university sends students who are turned down for the main campus a brochure about the seven branch campuses around the state. But the students must apply separately.
USC’s vice president for student affairs, Dennis Pruitt, said it’s about providing students different pathways to higher education.
It could also boost enrollment at the smaller campuses, which can accommodate more students.
While total enrollment at USC’s seven branch campuses rose 7 percent between 2008 and 2012, that’s just half of the growth rate of the main Columbia campus during that time. Enrollment at the Aiken and Sumter campuses has actually dropped during that period, according to state data.
The new program follows a drop-off in the number of students transferring into USC-Columbia.
The number of transfer students to the main campus dropped by 10 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year, ending a four-year increase.
The drop-off was sharper when looking specifically at transfers from within the USC system. Those fell by 23 percent in 2012-13, according to university data.
Administrators expect the program to lead to more students transferring from one of the system’s two-year colleges – Lancaster, Salkehatchie, Sumter and Union – to a four-year school in the university system for a bachelor’s degree.
Which students receive automatic acceptance notices will depend on several factors, including whether they applied to another school in the system, where they live and their desired majors. They also must meet the academic standards of the branch campus.
The acceptance letters could also help sooth bruised egos while giving the rejected students an academic game plan, said Peter McPherson, the president of Washington-based Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
“It cushions the blow. It’s not easy to get a rejection letter,” he said. “A pathway to success is easier if it’s laid out.”