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Freshmen to Finish

Team members: Row 1 (l-r): Cynthia King, Samantha Wallace, Nathan Stock, Chris Giacomaro
Row 2 (l-r): Dennis Dunn, Luis Caicedo, Bill Schmidt, Ivory Mathews, Susan Riordan

The Freshman to Finish capstone project seeks to assist in finding transportation solutions to the problem of transient students in Greenville County. Transients are students who move in the middle of the year and must attend a new school, and although South Carolina Law allows transient students to continue attending their old school until the end of the year, many families and even schools lack the transportation resources to take advantage of this law. This gap in resources can have devastating academic consequences for students. Educators have observed that changing schools in the middle of the year can wipe out the academic progress of an entire term or can leave a student without enough credits to advance on to the next grade in the new school. These setbacks contribute to the staggering fact that ninety percent of students who do not complete their freshmen year at grade level do not graduate. This underdevelopment of talent not only stagnates the students, but undermines economic progress in the Upstate as well.  

This capstone’s work entails conducting (1) preliminary research on national models for transportation in education systems, (2) identifying local and regional agencies and organizations with successful transportation components, and (3) engaging with 2 representatives from relevant organizations to collect preliminary data, facts, and advice about the issue and prospective solutions. The information, studies, contacts, and models these meetings yield will be used to lay the groundwork for finding workable transportation solutions for transient students. The goal is for this project’s research is to support the case for a comprehensive assessment and analysis of the Upstate transient student transportation problem. While on its face, student transience seems to be strictly a transportation problem, we have found in many instances the challenge of transportation is caused and compounded by family circumstances such as homelessness, unemployment, domestic violence, and substance abuse. Once solutions have been devised, they could be piloted at a local high school and later scaled up if successful.