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Over a Half Million in South Carolina Lack a HS Diploma, This Free Program Can Change That

Career Online High School student Kindra Tucker and program associate Phillip Windsor
Thelisha Eaddy/ SC Public Radio
Career Online High School student Kindra Tucker and program associate Phillip Windsor

When Columbia resident Kindra Tucker, walked into the main branch of the Richland County Library, a sign caught her attention; its words would soon change her life.

“I was coming in to drop something off from work,” the Columbia Housing Authority employee said. “When I came up here, that’s when I saw the billboard up front.”

On the sign was information about the library’s new Career Online High School, an accredited program to help users earn their high school diploma. Tucker dropped out of high school, when she got pregnant almost 30 years ago.

“I had to get us in a place to stay. I had to do what I had to do in order to take care of my child,” she said.

Diane Luccy, is Business and Careers Manager at Richland Library, she said there are many reasons why a person does not complete high school.

“They call it educational trauma; when the student was in high school the first time around, they were either pushed out or pulled out for various reasons.”

Tucker is not alone. In South Carolina, more than 570,000 people do not have a high school diploma. In Richland County, where Tucker lives, that number is 40,000.

“The important thing to remember is there are some jobs that if you don’t have a high school diploma, you 

will not even be considered for that opportunity,” Luccy said. “Even to join the military, you have to have your high school diploma,” she added.

For almost a decade, Richland Library has offered career-related services like creating a resume, interview practice and computer basics classes. Luccy said, when the Career Online High School became available, library realized it was an important element it wasn’t offering.

In 2014, the Career Online High school program became available for public libraries. Luccy said there are over 145 library systems across the country offering this service, Richland Library is the online on in the Carolinas.

The Career Online High School is free for students; they must apply for their high school transcripts; be a Richland County resident over the age of 21 and have a Richland library card.

Since the program launched on November 5, 2018, over 200 people have taken the self-assessment.  Currently the 23 students are enrolled and the program’s first graduation will be take place this fall.