Hidden Gems of South Carolina (Colleges and Universities)

A photo illustrating a college advisor South Florida at International College Counselors reveals the hidden gems among South Carolina colleges and universities.

Erik McLeod, a Director of College Advising at International College Counselors, is the writer of this week’s blog on South Carolina colleges and universities.

As a college counselor in South Florida for 12 years, and now advising remotely from my home state of South Carolina, I often start the application process by asking students if there is a certain region in which they are interested. The answer is nearly always the same: “Florida and any state north of South Carolina.” But when asked, “Why skip the Palmetto State?” students can rarely provide a concrete reason. As a graduate of College of Charleston myself, I suspect they believe SC is just too “Southern”? While the feeling of Southern hospitality is very much alive at many of the state’s colleges, this welcoming spirit combines with excellent academics and beautiful campuses to deliver some absolutely superb college options, three of which I recently had the pleasure of visiting.

College of Charleston:

Though everyone knows Charleston as a great place to visit, seemingly few know the College of Charleston, which sits right in the historic district and is equally as terrific. “C of C” is a public university of 10,000, which puts it in that perfect sweet spot–not too big, not too small. This means that classes are small enough to allow for discussion-based learning, professors can relate to their students as individuals, and there is a nice mix of students from up and down the East Coast.

In terms of academics, the college is especially known for its strong marine biology major as well as its biology and chemistry programs that prepare many graduates for enrollment at the Medical University of South Carolina just blocks away. Additionally, the School of Business now offers dedicated majors in real estate and entrepreneurship, two areas that join the college’s long-established and well-regarded tourism and hospitality major. And the beaches? They are 15 minutes away, beautiful, clean, and uncrowded. Additionally, the campus is safe, students are not stressed out, and there’s a friendly vibe to the college and surrounding city where students can simply walk to shops, restaurants, and cultural venues. Sound too good to be true? It’s not!

Furman University:

Furman is yet another highly regarded university, and it’s located just outside downtown Greenville, in SC’s northwest region. Whereas C of C is public and enrolls 10,000, Furman is private, enrolls 2,500, and has a lower admit rate. On my recent tour, the very first thing I noticed was just how beautiful the grounds are–immaculately maintained. The same can be said of every building and facility, and this from someone who has visited more than 130 campuses! I was also incredibly impressed by the student panel who spoke during the admission session, all of whom were articulate, knowledgeable, and showed a genuine love for the school as well as their professors.

Academically, Furman’s top three majors are business administration, political science, and communications, though biology and exercise science are also very popular. And for music majors, Furman has a standout program that has been highly regarded for many years…take it from someone who used to attend their band camp practically when Beethoven was still alive!

Furman’s campus is quite large (750 acres), but with an average class size of 14, there’s a tight-knit feel to the academic community that allows for true discussion-based learning, something in which the university takes pride. And because 25% of students are from states not in the Southeast, Furman offers a good mix of people and personalities, evidenced by the fact that our tour guide was from Salt Lake City. When asked if he liked Furman, he simply said, “I love it here.” 

Wofford College:

A third hidden gem is Wofford College, located within a 10-minute walk from the shops and restaurants of downtown Spartanburg (just 45 minutes east of Furman). Enrolling approximately 1,900 students, Wofford has a small student body, but the size of the campus belies this statistic! And just like Furman, the grounds are absolutely pristine, with facilities and buildings equally well maintained. That means that students wanting a more traditional looking campus with lots of green space and open areas (as opposed to glass and concrete) can definitely add Wofford to their list. Also, like Furman, Wofford has a quiet, laidback vibe where students are there to broaden their academic horizons and enjoy learning. Our tour guide, Zeke, emphasized this as well and noted how students are not there to outcompete their peers in a frantic race to “win” or “get ahead.” What a refreshing approach to learning, right?

Thirty percent of Wofford’s students major in either finance or the biological sciences, but Wofford also offers a number of other majors, including film and digital media; gender studies; medicine and the liberal arts; energy studies, and data science. 

So, if you are looking for a college that is located in a beautiful state, has four seasons, and avoids the high-pressure, competitive environment of some others, I highly encourage you to consider adding these three wonderful institutions to your list…you just might find that one of these hidden gems is your best match!

International College Counselors

Discover new best fit colleges for your student and increase your student’s chances of securing a spot at their top-choice institutions! Contact us at International College Counselors or call 1-954-414-9986 for personalized assistance to navigate the complexities of the college admission process.

Join us on Wednesday, May 15 @ 7PM ET for the FREE webinar: The Power of a Liberal Arts Education

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/ymu8z2u4

Even if you can’t make it to this webinar, register, and we’ll email you a link to the recording following the webinar.