South Carolina Celebrates 10 Years of College Application Month

Wade Hampton High School in Greenville, SC on Oct 10. Pictured: Representative Chandra Dillard, SC House Deputy Minority Leader; House District 23 Dr. Karen Woodfaulk, Director Student Affairs Division, SC Commission on Higher Education; Melissa Caperton, Director, American College Application Campaign; Dr. Burke Royster, Superintendent, Greenville County Schools; Mrs. Lynda Leventis-Wells, Greenville County Schools Board of Trustees; Representative Merita Allison, Chair, House Education and Public Works Committee, House District 36

What is College Application Month South Carolina?

College Application Month South Carolina, or CAM SC, is South Carolina’s adaptation of the American College Application Campaign. The goal of CAM SC is to provide a forum for all South Carolina high school seniors to complete and file college applications while receiving the assistance and resources they need to successfully access higher education.

Tell us about CAM SC accomplishments over the past 10 years.

The College Application Month initiative began with a small pilot in 2009 implemented by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE), with help from the GEAR UP program in North Carolina. Since that first year, College Application Month events have grown across South Carolina from 12 participating high schools with 1,000 high school seniors completing more than 2,000 applications in 2009 to more than 237 high schools participating with 47,000 high school seniors completing an estimated 65,000 college applications in 2018.

How are you celebrating this incredible milestone?

The fall semester of 2019 represents the 10th anniversary of the CAM SC program. To celebrate the milestone, CHE held three anniversary kickoff events across the state on: October 4 at Wando High School (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.); October 10 at Wade Hampton High School (Greenville, S.C.), and October 21 at Irmo High School (Columbia, S.C.). State and local leaders, including members of the South Carolina General Assembly, were on hand to take part in a special press conference at each event, and helped students complete college applications. The events focused on honoring the program’s supporters and celebrating its progress to this point. The events were co-hosted by the SC Commission on Higher Education, the local school districts, ACT, and the College Board.

Why is it important to celebrate a milestone such as a 10-year anniversary?

The growth and impact of our CAM SC program has been vital to getting more students into the higher education pipeline. Each year we’ve increased the number of schools, number of participating students and applications completed, and gained new sponsors/partners. It’s important to take the time to celebrate these accomplishments and the students we have served. Engaging the community in our 10-year anniversary demonstrates to younger students we are committed to helping everyone apply to college. Celebrating this milestone demonstrates how our state is embracing a college-going culture for all.

Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, SC on Oct. 4 Pictured: Dr. Gerrick Hampton Associate Director for Student Affairs and ACAC State Coordinator, SC Commission on Higher Education; Melissa Caperton, Director, American College Application Campaign; Dr. Karen Woodfaulk, Director Student Affairs Division, SC Commission on Higher Education

Why was it important to include representatives such as local and state dignitaries to celebrate the program’s success?

Our CAM program will only be as good as our partnerships and supporters. Highlighting the support and contributions from local and state dignitaries not only provides a positive experience, but highlights the role that legislators, school officials and business leaders can play in supporting the program. Business leaders and legislators seeing their peers’ support a college-going culture encourages others to engage with our campaign. There are so many opportunities still available to strengthen our program, and we want to show community leaders how they can help.

Share any exciting updates on the future of the College Application Month program in South Carolina.

The CAM SC 10-year anniversary celebrations were major successes. Several members of the SC General Assembly were on hand to share in our successes and encourage our continued growth. We were fortunate to have leadership from the American College Access Campaign on hand to share national data and to provide some remarks on their role in helping CAM SC get started! As for the 2019 CAM SC season, we were able to hit our goal of 240 participating schools, and we anticipate an increase in applications completed. We were able to secure partnerships with the SC Treasurer’s Office to offer two scholarships to CAM SC students who attend an event and complete our survey. The scholarship winners will be chosen from a drawing in the spring. Finally, CAM SC has seen the introduction of two virtual schools hosting CAM events. Two virtual high schools hosted events during fall 2019, allowing college reps to join their students virtually, through Blackboard, to answer questions online.

Dr. Gerrick J. Hampton is the associate director for the student affairs division of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education (CHE). He currently manages the LIFE & SC HOPE Scholarship Programs, the Lottery Tuition Assistance program, and the South Carolina Residency Program. In addition, Dr. Hampton also oversees the CHE College Access Programs: South Carolina College Application Month, College Goal South Carolina and College Decision Day. Dr. Hampton has been with CHE for twelve years. His work in the area of college access focuses on helping students identify institutions of higher education that may best suit their needs and accessing funding to assist with their education.