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Emerging Scholars

  • Jason Combs
  • Associate Program Director

Program Description

The Clemson Emerging Scholars Program helps students from South Carolina's largely neglected rural schools (infamously dubbed the "corridor of shame") learn what it takes to go to college. By hosting students on campus, working with their parents and taking them to see college campuses across the state, participants are better able to achieve success in college, regardless of the expectation of others.

Since 2002, The Emerging Scholars Program has made higher education a reality for students who have not seen college in their future. The mission of the Emerging Scholars Program at Clemson University is to establish a college-going culture among students in families from the state's economically disadvantaged areas through academic enrichment, developing leadership skills and increasing college preparedness. Students are taught that knowing the basics in reading, writing and math are the most important factors in high school and college completion. These skills are emphasized throughout their participation in the program, along with more information on the basics of applying to any college or university. Even though the students attend summer sessions on the campus of Clemson University, the goal of college attendance is not limited to Clemson. The students are encouraged to apply and attend any college of their choice with an emphasis on schools in the state of South Carolina. All of this is done through two different components:

The Emerging Scholars Program targets students in five different high schools in the low country. According to the US Census Bureau, the average poverty rate for the five high schools is 25.6%, meaning 1 in 4 people are in poverty (income of $18,392 or less). This has huge implications for college attendance in these areas. According to Post-secondary Education Opportunity, college participation rates in families that make less than $36,539 is only 40.2%. This is compared to a 71.1% college participation rate in families with income higher than $64,109. This coupled with below average SAT scores makes it even harder for these students to find success in college.

Services Provided

  • Academic enrichment/tutoring/study skills
  • College admissions guidance and counseling
  • College fairs/campus visits
  • Community service/service hours
  • Financial aid advising/FAFSA completion
  • SAT/ACT and other test preparation
  • Scholarships and last-dollar grants


Populations Served

  • Academically High-performing


  • Less than 25%

Colleges Attended
by Alumni

  • Charleston Southern University
  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Coastal Carolina University
  • College of Charleston
  • Furman
  • Greenville Technical College
  • Midlands Technical College
  • Morehouse College
  • Paine College
  • Spelman College
  • University of South Carolina-Aiken
  • University of South Carolina-Upstate
  • Winthrop University
  • Wofford College