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College of Education

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A college-based, inclusive, certificate program for students with diverse learning needs.

CarolinaLIFE supports students in reaching their personal goals and prepares them to become productive community members by providing inclusive and individualized experiences in academics, employment, independent living and community involvement.

CarolinaLIFE provides the opportunity for all students to realize their intellectual and personal potential, and to become responsible, productive members of society. Students receive both inclusive and individualized experiences in the domains of academics, employment, independent living and community life. 

The program prepares students for adult life within the community. CarolinaLIFE students immerse themselves in college life by living in university housing and participating in all aspects of student life.


Students take 15 credit hours of coursework each semester. Coursework consists of both USC and CarolinaLIFE classes. Students audit USC courses that align with their interests and goals. CarolinaLIFE courses provide small-group instruction in subjects ranging from personal finance to career exploration. As a supplement to their coursework, students participate in at least 3 hours of individual academic lab sessions per week. During academic lab, students work alongside an academic coach to complete assignments and develop study habits, and receive additional instruction.


Students start the program preparing for employment through coursework in career exploration and skill development. Starting sophomore year, students are required to either work or intern at a jobsite where they will receive support from a job coach if needed.

The CarolinaLIFE employment team offers four primary supports:

  • Person-centered career planning
  • Specialized classes on professional skills
  • Support in securing part-time employment experiences
  • Job training via job coach

Independent living

CarolinaLIFE students have the opportunity to expand independent living skills by living on campus in an apartment-style dorm with other university students. CarolinaLIFE resident mentors work throughout the week to instruct students in independent living skills and present rich learning experiences. Instruction covers topics including transportation, laundry, budgeting, shopping and cooking. CarolinaLIFE supports students in these routine practices and responsibilities so they are equipped to live adult lives after leaving the university.

Community Involvement

Students are encouraged to take advantage of all the opportunities available at the university. USC has more than 400 student organizations and hosts numerous events throughout the school year. Being in the heart of Columbia’s downtown, USC is also walking distance from many of the city’s popular districts. With a variety of university and city offerings, students have plenty of opportunities for learning and recreation. Social mentors are available to students who want additional support in accessing the campus and community.