Our time in Columbia, SC was well spent!
We stayed on campus in the Inn at USC and it was just beautiful!
We took a quick walk to the Salty Nut Cafe for dinner. It's a local fave and we fell in love with the scenery and menu (and of course the peanuts).
We had a super comfy cozy nights' sleep and began our day with a 9 am campus tour! As we made our way to the visitor's center, I noticed how beautiful (and tall) all the buildings were!
Chloe introduced herself to the other prospective students in our group and I was thrilled with the level of acceptance and openness they had to Chloe's ambition to study more about athletic training and science. Each person shared their hopes and dreams and Chloe was no exception.
Our tour guide was a current USC student and very knowledgable about the programming, majors and the food plan (she was quick to point out that it is possible to eat ice cream for breakfast and this fact TOTALLY grabbed Chloe's attention).
Many of the buildings on campus are arranged on a the historic horseshoe at the center of campus and everything's in walking distance and pretty easy to navigate. USC's campus is truly gorgeous and one of a kind!
We were able to peek in at an apartment style dorm and Chloe was thrilled with the idea of living on campus! (Marcus and I are still digesting the idea).
We met the CarolinaLIFE team in the afternoon and were able to learn more about the options and classes available to CarolinaLIFE students. The program has been running for 8 years and the team has helped include students in just about everything I could think of to ask about (including study abroad programs). The program utilizes a person centered planning approach and mirrors college life of a typical student from inclusion in campus events (hello, tailgating) and clubs, classes and living on campus.
The admissions criteria include a handwriting sample and specific reading level as well as an in person interview. Potential is one criterion that the team considers. I haven't seen this spelled out in the other programs we've looked at so far, but I like it! I happen to believe that potential isn't necessarily testable and can best be demonstrated through work ethic and willingness to learn.
We browsed the bookstore and Chloe picked up a memento of her visit. We made sure to check that USC parent tees are readily available too!
This was literally our first campus tour and college visit and I learned so much just by experiencing life at USC for a day.
After the meetings we went to check out the local rink: Plex Indoor Sports in Irmo, SC. We met up with figure skating director Katie Zabinski and she and Chloe had fun skating for a little while. Katie is also a USC student and has been very happy with her choice!
All in all, the visit exceeded my expectations. The program and location are very big "pros" for us because we'd be pretty close to friends and family and I love the rich history of inclusion the CarolinaLIFE team has been able to create for it's students. Chloe, for example, would take courses with Athletic Training majors and work on weekends at the ice rink. These things would allow her to build an employable skill set and that is, after all, OUR goal for Chloe.
Marcus and I have decided that this is Chloe's decision and although we will retain veto power - we will back her in whatever choice she makes for herself.
As proponents of both self-advocacy and college programming we think Chloe is very capable of choosing which environment she'd learn best in.