New program offers free college courses, certification, to Dorch - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

New program offers free college courses, certification, to Dorchester District 2 students

DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - There's a new program giving students in Dorchester County a chance to earn college credits for free.

It's part of a new partnership between Dorchester District 2 and ECPI University.  The program started Tuesday at Ashley Ridge High School, but will also include Ft. Dorchester and Summerville.

Over two years, students will take nine courses, two per semester, with a focus in information technology.

To date, approximately 75 students in Dorchester District 2 have enrolled, all of whom were required to pass a college entrance exam administered through ECPI University.

"There's a lot of job growth headed to Charleston which is great, but we have a little bit of a skills shortage here so this is a way for ECPI to help address that need in our community," said Kristie Cumbee, Career Services Director for the ECPI North Charleston campus.

The dual-enrollment program is working to address a shortage in STEM fields, which emphasizes key concepts such as science, technology, engineering, and math.

"Anytime we can give our students a new opportunity, we're doing the right thing," added Dorchester District 2 Director of High Schools Elena Furnari.

In addition to college credits, each track offers professional certification.

"We make sure that they are work ready, not just a degree holder," Cumbee said.

ECPI University donated a large portion of the course costs, while the district covered the direct costs of training its students.

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