As early as fall 2015, the University of South Carolina's Beaufort campus could get a whole new crop of students -- students that didn't apply to attend school there.
Some applicants who fail to get into USC's main Columbia campus will soon receive two letters in reply: a rejection letter to USC, accompanied by an acceptance letter to one of the system's seven smaller campuses.
Starting next spring, these automatic acceptance letters will be sent only on behalf of the system's four, two-year campuses, according to university interim vice president of communications Wes Hickman. But in the spring of 2015, school administrators hope also to offer such automatic acceptances to the system's three, four-year colleges, he said.
Many details must be figured out before the program can refer students to the four-year campuses, according to Mack Palmour, vice chancellor for enrollment management at USCB. However, he said the school is excited to participate.
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"It allows us to bring students toward us that originally might not be aware of us," Palmour said. "But once they are here, we want to make sure they want to succeed with us and will stay with us until they graduate."
The university currently sends information about the other system schools to applicants who are turned down from USC, but students must apply separately to those schools.
Hickman said this new program is to help keep those applicants in the USC family and keep them informed about the variety of opportunities in the university system.
"This is an effort to take the next step and say, 'Even though we couldn't accommodate you here, we could take you here and this is why it's a good fit for you,'" Hickman said. "It's kind of cutting out the middle man."
Not all who are rejected for the main campus will receive automatic admission at a satellite.
Acceptance at the smaller campuses will depend upon where the students live, the academic standards of the individual campuses and the applicants' desired area of study. Those who already have applied to another system school will receive preference for that school, as well.
Palmour said USCB will begin working with all the campuses to discuss each school's standards and details about how the acceptances will be determined.
Hickman said it is crucial that all the campuses be given input in this process -- especially the four-year campuses, which are independently accredited.
It's unclear how many students will accept the automatic offers. Hickman said there were more than 5,000 students who couldn't be accommodated in Columbia last year, but he doesn't know how many of those would have wound up at one of the seven campuses were the program already in place.
Several students at USCB voiced support for this program and think it will allow the Beaufort campus to expand its student population.
"This automatic acceptance can help to spread that knowledge (about the opportunities at the smaller campuses)," said senior and student body president Devin Mock. "I'm excited for the opportunity for growth among the entering classes, ... and as a student, I think it's great that my university system is becoming a more cohesive unit."
Palmour agrees this new program could be helpful for the school -- which became a four-year college in 2002, making it the newest baccalaureate school in the system.
"USCB is a brand we're still building, so we see this as an opportunity to continue to build that in partnership with Columbia and the other schools."
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