Spartanburg Methodist College (SMC) is a private two-year college affiliated with the United Methodist Church in the city of Spartanburg, South Carolina. The focus of the school is preparing students for transfer to a four year college or university. Unlike most two-year colleges which focus on technical and trade education, SMC teaches an almost entirely liberal arts curriculum.
The school has been a part of the community of Spartanburg for a century. It was founded in 1911 by Methodist pastor Dr. David English Camak as Textile Industrial Institute (TII), a work-study cooperative that provided high school education to young adults working in textile mills in the Spartanburg area. Under the auspices of TII, students alternated between working for one week, then taking classes for one week. Starting in 1927, the school gradually added college classes and dropped high school classes, until it became Spartanburg Junior College in 1942.
In 1965, the school put on a spurt of growth to grow the campus and the student body to its current levels. This period of growth culminated in a name change in 1974, when Spartanburg Junior College took on its current name of Spartanburg Methodist College.
SMC has been a religious school since its inception. Today, it is most closely affiliated with the United Methodist Church through the General Board of Global Ministries and the Board of Global Ministries of the South Carolina Annual Conference. Although SMC is a small school, with about 800 students enrolled at any given time, the campus is large, spreading over 110 wooded acres inside the Spartanburg city limits.
There are four degree programs and one certificate program at SMC: Associate in Science, Associate in Arts, Associate in Religious Studies, Associate in Criminal Justice, and Paralegal Certification. The student/faculty ratio is 19:1, making for small and personal classes.
The paralegal certificate program is geared toward adult students. Classes are held in the evenings in ten-week blocks, so that adults who other commitments such as work and family miss a block, they can simply resume their education with the next block.
The Marie Blair Burgess Library contains more than 50,000 print volumes and an additional 50,000 ebooks. The library makes good use of interlibrary loan through PASCAL, a consortium of academic libraries in South Carolina, giving students access to millions of volumes. The Mary Ellen Suitt Art Gallery, located in the Marie Blair Burgess Library, features rotating exhibits by visiting artists, local artists, and faculty and student artists.
Transferring to a Four Year Institution
Roughly 90% of students transfer to a four-year college or university. SMC hosts an annual college day for students to introduce them to representatives of area colleges where many students go on to complete bachelor’s degrees. Some of the most popular schools for transfer are Anderson University, Art Institute of Charlotte, Bervard College, Charleston Southern Unviersity, Clafin University, Clemson University, Coastal Carolina University, College of Charleston, Columbia College, Converse College, Erskine College, Lander Unviersity, Limestone College, North Greenville University, Presbyterian College, Southern Wesleyan University, USC Aiken, USC Columbia, Webster University, Winthrop University, and Wofford College.
Most Popular Fields of Study
70% of first-year applicants are admitted. Although SMC is explicitly Methodist, it is not necessary to be a Methodist to attend. More than 25 diverse religious faiths are represented in the student body.
96% of students receive some form of financial aid. In addition to the usual assortment of financial aid options offered by the federal government and the state of South Carolina, SMC offers several of its own scholarships. The Miliken Scholar, Camak Scholar, Trustee Scholar, Presidential Scholar, and College Opportunity Scholarships are all academic merit-based. There are also leadership scholarships available in the areas of athletic training, athletics, cheerleading, dance, drama, Eagle Scouts, music, newspaper, United Methodist, and yearbook.
The student body is split fairly evenly between men and women. About 67% of students are European American, 27% are African American, and 4% are Latino American. Students from all parts of South Carolina, several states, and a few foreign countries attend SMC. About 6% of students come from outside South Carolina.
Clubs and Organizations
There are several clubs and organizations for students on the SMC campus. General interest organizations include the computer programming club, the criminal justice club, the psi omega theatre fraternity, the student government association, and People Organizing Programs Successfully (POPS). Publications on campus include the newspaper, Trailblazer; the annual literary magazine, Illusions; and the yearbook The Olympian. There are no traditional fraternities or sororities on campus, but there is a coed service fraternity, Kappa Sigma Alpha. There are three national honor societies on campus: Sigma Kappa Delta, Phi Theta Kappa, and Psi Beta.
Campus ministry is a very important piece of student life at SMC. Campus ministry groups include Baptist Collegiate Ministry, Presbyterian Student Association, Wesley Fellowship, and Campus Crusade for Christ. In keeping with the traditions of the Methodist church, there also is a strong focus on music and theatre on campus. Popular groups include Gospel Choir, Liturgical Dance Team, Chapel Drama Team, Handbell Choir, SMC Singers, SMC Troubadours, SMC Players, and Jazz Ensemble.
SMC offers comprehensive services to their students in order to make their educational experience as successful as possible. Available services include academic counselling, financial counselling, individual counselling, mentorship opportunities, tutoring, application assistance for transferring to four year college and universities, and career counselling.
Providing community service to others is a large part of student life at the university. Every year the Centennial Service Challenge encourages each and every student to donate 100 hours of service to the Spartanburg community. On the Freshman Day of Service, all first-year students work together to clean, paint, cook, and landscape at schools, shelters, churches, soup kitchens, and assisted living facilities. Many students also participate in the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Challenge by making soup for a local soup kitchen and competing to see who can gather the most servings of non-perishable food items. A large number of students participate in a mission trip over fall break to participate in Habitat for Humanity building projects.
There are 7 residence halls on campus, mostly with double rooms. 75% of students live on campus. All residences feature wireless internet, phone jacks, and laundry facilities. SMC prohibits the use or possession of alcohol by students on or off campus. This means that a student enrolled at SMC, even one of legal drinking age, cannot drink an alcoholic beverage off-campus without potential reprisals.
The cafeteria on campus, is known as Pioneer Café. It features daily pizza, a chef’s station with made-to-order stir fry and fajitas, a well-stocked salad bar, and regular vegetarian options.
Student Enrollment Demographics
The athletics department is known as the Pioneers. They compete in 14 intercollegiate sports in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I. Competitive sports include men’s soccer, women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, men’s cross country, women’s cross country, softball, wrestling, and volleyball. The men’s soccer team has a particularly strong winning record.
The city of Spartanburg is home to about 40,000 permanent residents, with a population of a quarter-million in the greater metropolitan area and over 10,000 college and university students. There are six separate learning institutions in the city, officially qualifying it as a “college town”. Situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Spartanburg is convenient to the coastline and beaches as well as recreational opportunities in the mountains. The city is serviced by Amtrak, Greyhound, and two different airports for convenient transportation.
Recreational, cultural, and educational opportunities in Spartanburg include Hollywild Animal Park, Cowpens National Battlefield, a downtown sculpture tour, Live Oaks Farm, Westgate Mall, a series of networked walking and biking trails, fishing, camping, and boating at Croft State Natural Area, Ship Wreck Cove Water Park, RetroFest, Spartanburg County regional History Museum, the Pacolet Indian Summer Festival, Spartanburg Science Center, listening to bluegrass music at the Albino Skunk Festival, and more. The mild climate in Spartanburg lends itself to outdoor recreational opportunities all year round.
Many graduates stay in Spartanburg after graduation and make it their permanent community. Top employers in the Spartanburg area who hire SMC graduates include Spartanburg Regional Health Services, County of Spartanburg, Marriott-Renaissance Park, Spartanburg County School District 7, and the several colleges and universities in the area. The world headquarters for Extended Stay Hotels, Advance America, Denny’s, and Miliken are also all located in the Spartanburg area and employ large numbers of local college graduates.
SMC alumni include major league baseball players Orlando Hudson, Mookie Wilson, Reggie Sanders, and Lee Gronkiewicz.
Clubs and Organizations. Campus Life. Spartanburg Methodist College. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.
Fiske, Edward B. Fiske Guide to Colleges 2011. Chicago: Sourcebooks, 2010. Print.
How to Apply. Admissions. Spartanburg Methodist College. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.
Pope, Loren. Looking Beyond the Ivy League: Finding the College That’s Right for You. New York: Penguin. 2007. Print.
Things to Do While Visiting Spartanburg. City of Spartanburg. Web. 25 Apr. 2011.
Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
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