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Viewpoint: A pandemic shouldn’t change the trajectory of education

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COVID-19 has significantly impacted many of our day-to-day activities. It has changed how we shop, socialize, work, travel, and the list goes on. 

But this pandemic doesn’t have to change the trajectory of your education. You can affordably and safely work toward your higher education goals and accelerate your post-pandemic life even further by attending one of South Carolina’s technical colleges.

Higher education, like other sectors, has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, the implications of which we’re still discovering daily. As new information and best practices emerge, students, parents, and institutions continue to adjust in an ongoing effort to navigate this new “normal.” 

With fall drawing near, many people are thinking about going to college and considering the next right step. One thing is certain: This is not the time to press pause on your dreams and future.

As exceptionally flexible institutions, our state’s technical colleges find themselves uniquely positioned to swiftly respond and adapt to the challenges presented by COVID. 

With smaller class sizes and campuses, as well as the flexibility offered by online learning, technical colleges offer not only a quality education at an affordable price, but also a safe and stable alternative for those considering their college options in these unprecedented times.

Nearly every South Carolinian is within a 30-minute drive of one of our 16 main or 64 satellite campuses. The strategic placement of our colleges across the state ensures that higher education remains accessible for students of all ages who wish to remain local. 

In a time when remote working and learning has newfound value, accessing quality education close to home is a great advantage.

With so many unknowns about how this pandemic will continue to unfold, it’s natural to want to wait and see how things evolve, avoiding significant decisions and investments. Our affordability is another factor that ensures accessibility and is another way technical colleges are keeping education moving forward without adding burden to the financial strain many families are feeling. 

At a third the cost of state-supported four-year institutions, technical colleges provide one of the most affordable college options for meeting your future goals.

Along with financial complexities, we recognize many are struggling with job insecurity. Whether people are laid off from their jobs or considering the relevance of their role in a post-COVID economy, new opportunities can be found in abundance if you know where to look. 

South Carolina’s technical colleges prepare students for in-demand, high paying jobs — good jobs with great futures, good wages and opportunities for advancement in any climate. 

Our state currently has thousands of jobs available in critical employment areas, with many more to follow as our communities, state and country adapt and pivot to address new needs. 

Making a career leap is within reach. Ninety percent of our graduates are placed in a job related to their field of study or are furthering their education, and our colleges have more than 1,100 degree and certificate programs to help you define the next chapter of your story.

This pandemic hasn’t changed what we do for the people of South Carolina. No matter how insurmountable the challenges seem, we’ve always been there to support our students. 

Whether you’re a high school graduate looking for an affordable start to a degree, or a working parent hoping to elevate your career, South Carolina’s technical colleges will help you get there. 

Our colleges can also quickly get people negatively impacted by the pandemic back on their feet, training them in new fields and building more stability for their lives amid this economic downturn.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have changed how you do things, but it shouldn’t stop you from shaping the future you see for yourself. 

You don’t find the lesson in the challenge, but in how you overcome it. The SC Technical College System and our 16 colleges are here to help you rise to the challenge. 

Tim Hardee is the president of the S.C. Technical College System.

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