Aiken Scholars Academy to Offer Elite Academic Experience on USC Aiken's Campus for Aiken County Students Starting in Fall 2018

May 18, 2017

The Aiken County Public School District, in partnership with the University of South Carolina Aiken, held a joint press conference today to provide an important update for the public on an exciting new academic venture starting in the fall of 2018 – the Aiken Scholars Academy.

The purpose of the Aiken Scholars Academy is to enhance the preparedness of Aiken County Public School students by exceeding standards of college and career readiness and meeting the needs of an increasingly technical and highly skilled future workforce. The academy will offer high school students a unique and engaging educational structure that will introduce them to and immerse them in the collegiate environment.

Months of negotiations and planning led to the December 2016 announcement of a thematic high school planned for the campus at USC Aiken, opening with an initial class of 50 9th-grade students in the first cohort for the academy. Aiken Scholars Academy classes will be held inside the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center.

"We will accept 50 of the brightest ninth-grade students from across our county and expand our enrollment each year by an additional 50 students until we reach a maximum enrollment of 200 students during the fourth year," Aiken County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford stated. "This will be a school of excellence and provide an unrivaled academic opportunity for Aiken County students.

"Students who reside in Aiken County will be eligible to apply for the Aiken Scholars Academy, with standardized test scores, grades, recommendations and writing samples making up a portion of the application process," Dr. Alford added.

Dr. Sandra Jordan, USC Aiken’s Chancellor, said the university was thrilled to collaborate with the District on such an exciting and innovative project.

"The student body for the Aiken Scholars Academy will be among the highest performing students in the county, and they will enjoy a competitive school environment with a challenging curriculum,” she said.

"Our own Pacers may see these high school students on campus and even have classes with them at some point. We will welcome these young scholars to USC Aiken and we are so pleased to partner with the Aiken County School District on this important effort." 

During the 9th and 10th grade years, Aiken Scholars Academy will be taught by Aiken County instructors as they participate in courses necessary for high school graduation at Honors and Advanced Placement levels. Following their completion of this required coursework, Academy students will participate in college courses on the USCA campus in the discipline unique to their individual interests and graduate high school with the potential of earning 48-60 hours of college credit to begin their college experience, all without cost to the student or family.

An informational meeting for interested community students and families will take place May 25th, also on campus at USC Aiken, starting at 6:00 p.m. in the Student Activities Center (SAC) gymnasium.  Attendees will be provided with information pertinent to the application process, coursework requirements, dates, deadlines and more.

USC Aiken, a comprehensive university in the University of South Carolina system, offers undergraduate and master’s degrees to more than 3,500 students in 50 programs of study. USC Aiken is ranked the #1 public regional college in the South by U.S. News & World Report’s guide "America’s Best Colleges." The 2017 distinction marks USC Aiken’s 19th consecutive ranking among the top three in this category and its 12th time in first place.