Columbia, S.C. – The University of South Carolina’s four regional Palmetto College campuses lead the pack among the state’s community colleges in the 2020 Niche Best College rankings.
In its national list of 2020 Best Community Colleges, Niche ranked USC Lancaster No. 2 and USC Sumter No. 5. In the list of 2020 Best Community Colleges in South Carolina, Niche ranked all four regional Palmetto College campuses: No. 1 USC Lancaster, No. 2 USC Sumter, No. 3 USC Salkehatchie and No. 5 USC Union.
“We are pleased to see that the entire nation sees the value in the education and opportunity afforded to students at our University of South Carolina system institutions,” said University of South Carolina President Bob Caslen.
“These Niche rankings reaffirm the value of the University of South Carolina educational experience,” added USC Palmetto College Chancellor Susan Elkins. “The regional Palmetto Colleges offer South Carolinians an opportunity to pursue an accessible and affordable higher education within their respective communities.”
The four two-year regional Palmetto College campuses – USC Lancaster, USC Salkehatchie, USC Sumter and USC Union – collectively enroll nearly 5,000 students within the Allendale, Lancaster, Laurens, Sumter, Union and Walterboro communities. The campuses confer associate degrees to graduates and partner with baccalaureate-granting USC institutions to offer the flexibility to complete bachelor’s degree programs on campus or via Palmetto College Online.
USC Lancaster, which ranks No. 2 nationally and No. 1 in South Carolina, is emblematic of the experiences shared among the regional Palmetto College campuses in the University of South Carolina system.
USC Lancaster invests in a variety of programming and support structures to enhance the student experience on campus and to provide students with resources to make them successful. For example, Lancaster provides free tutoring in all academic disciplines, enriched academic advising, the TRIO Opportunity Scholars Program for first-generation students, as well as personal and career counseling. Supporting academic encouragement, the college offers a student food pantry and clothing closet exist to meet the needs of students who need additional assistance in reaching their personal and academic goals.
In addition to those efforts to reach students beyond the classroom, the regional Palmetto Colleges are important resources within their respective communities as well. USC Sumter recently hosted Swan Con, Sumter’s annual comic arts festival, on its campus. USC Union sponsors the annual Upcountry Literary Festival for poets, musicians, novelists, oral storytellers, playwrights, essayists and short-story writers. The USC Salkehatchie Leadership Institute prepares community members for leadership roles to help stimulate economic development in its five-county service territory. USC Lancaster’s Native American Studies Center offers a comprehensive resource for study of South Carolina’s Native American peoples, their histories and cultures.
Community outreach among regional Palmetto College campuses also includes college preparation and guidance for K-12 students and their families. Most of the campuses serve as hosts to University of Possibilities, a guidance program designed to prepare sixth through 12th-grade students and their families for college. And, high school students within these communities have an opportunity to begin taking courses for college credit.
Niche analyzes more than 3,000 colleges to create rankings and “Niche Grades” for all aspects of campus life, including academics, student life and value. The “2020 Best Community Colleges in South Carolina” ranking is based on a rigorous analysis of academic, admissions, financial and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with millions of reviews from students and alumni.
Niche also grades institutions on several other factors, including academics (35 percent), value (25 percent), professors (10 percent), student life (7.5 percent), campus (5 percent), diversity (5 percent), local area (2.5) percent and safety (2.5 percent). The student surveys are self-reported by Niche users. A detailed explanation of methodology can be found here.
Niche is a website that facilitates the discovery of schools and neighborhoods for its users through analysis of dozens of public data sets and millions of reviews to produce comprehensive rankings, report cards and profiles for every K-12 school, college and neighborhood in the United States.