Since its founding in 1770, the College of Charleston has earned a stellar reputation as one of the top liberal arts universities in the nation. Most people associate the institution of higher learning with images of 20-somethings and downtown Charleston, but the School of Professional Studies at the North Campus is living proof that the College of Charleston community is more than just young adults learning against the backdrop of a historic city.
The School of Professional Studies offers a new approach to earning a College of Charleston diploma. Students who have completed some college work can finish their degree while holding down a job and dealing with family responsibilities. Local residents also can take continuing education and professional development courses that help businesses and employees alike. Whether you are trying to finish what you started or just want to learn a skill in order to advance in the workplace, the School of Professional Studies at the College of Charleston has something to sink your teeth into.
Approximately 100,000 people in the greater Charleston area have earned credits toward college work but have not yet earned a degree. Most of them are working and find it difficult to squeeze school into their schedule, unless, of course, classes are held at night and on weekends, which is the case at the School of Professional Studies.
Students can earn either a Bachelor of Professional Studies or a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. Adults who aren’t interested in a degree can take professional development courses in areas such as leadership, digital marketing and social media, and many Mount Pleasant-area residents are taking advantage of these and similar course. In fact, 16 percent of all non-degree-seeking students in the School of Professional Studies are from East of the Cooper.
Students who aren’t seeking a degree are generally older than those who are – their average age is 38 – but they have access to the same resources as their younger counterparts. In addition to sharing its faculty with the downtown campus, the North Campus is a full service model – complete with admissions counselors and academic advisors.
Local businesses are taking advantage of the high-quality education and non-degree courses offered by the School of Professional Studies, in many cases paying for their employees to enhance their educational opportunities. Blackbaud and other companies have policies in place to pay for their employees to learn.
“Blackbaud supports the career and personal development of its employees by offering tuition-reimbursement programs for degree-seeking and continuing education classes,” according to Ben Brownlee, a board member for the School of Professional Studies and a Blackbaud employee.
In addition, companies such as Jear Logistics, Johnson and Johnson Inc, Morris Financial Concepts Inc, and Patriots Point all have employees who are taking classes at the College of Charleston’s School of Professional Studies.
Serving the community is at the heart of it all, according to Godfrey Gibbison, Ph.D, dean of the School of Professional Studies.
“Regions are sustained and nourished by their local colleges and universities,” Dr. Gibbison pointed out. “The North Campus currently serves 650 students and hopes to serve more in the future.”
With plans to add more degrees and with more courses, the School of Professional Studies is poised to continue to serve the educational needs of the Lowcountry. The school is proof that an academic institution can add to its prestige by being responsive to the needs of the local community.
To learn more about the School of Professional Studies, visit http://sps.cofc.edu/programs/undergraduate-degree-completion.
By Peter Spearman.