Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College
"OCtech has the number three nursing program in the state, so you earn the reputation that you know your stuff. OCtech doesn’t play around when it comes to nursing. I know I’ll be well-respected once I leave here."
My name is Constance Prince, and I’m studying nursing. I am in the LPN program at Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College. I chose to come here because it’s near home and is financially easy. I had a great GPA in high school, so coming here everything was paid for, including my tuition. Because I’m in the Trio program for first-generation college students, I don’t have to worry about books — the program covered that cost for me. It’s a great community college and I love it.
Coming out of high school, what was the conversation around technical colleges between your friends?
A lot of people don’t care for technical colleges. They care for the four-year school. I guess that is because it’s two years and they figure you can only get your associate’s degree. With nursing, it’s easier because you can get your associate’s degree, which is your license, and then you can go get your BSN in a year and a half and you’re at the same level as them. You have an extra degree because they still have to come back to nursing school. For nursing, it’s just a better option for me.
When I would hear friends talk down about technical college, it didn’t really matter what they said. I was taking care of myself financially when it came to school. I knew I was coming to get my degree and my path wasn’t their path, so it didn’t matter to me. I wanted to take care of myself, and I have saved a lot.
Tell us a little more about the Trio program.
It’s a big asset to me. They’re like the bridge to get you over. If you need any additional help or if anything is hindering you, they walk you over that bridge. They are that additional help and that extra push. They make sure you get to the other side: college graduation.
In my extended family, lots of people went to college, but not everyone finished. Going to college was a big, big, big thing in my family. You have to go to college so you can get somewhere in life. It was definitely an expectation.
You were an excellent high school student — what is it like going to OCtech?
It is definitely challenging. Coming here, I didn’t figure, “Oh, it’s easier coming to OCtech.” They’re the number three nursing program in the state, so you know it’s going to be a little hard. When you go to OCtech, you earn the reputation that you know your stuff. OCtech doesn’t play around when it comes to nursing. I know I’ll feel well-respected once I leave here.
What sacrifices have you made to be here?
I had to sacrifice a lot of time and energy and sleep. I had to stop working and literally put all my energy into nursing. It was a little challenging for me to stop working because I’ve been working since I was very young. You’re used to making your own money, spending your own money and doing things that you want to do. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely want to be in the program, but I wasn’t used to staying home all day to study. But that’s all I have time for.
How has OCtech helped you on your journey?
Smaller classes are definitely a plus for me. Coming from Edisto High School, our classes weren’t that big, so I’m used to having one-on-one attention from the instructor. If you go to a four-year college, you may not get that one-on-one attention because there are so many students. I really appreciate coming to OCtech because the instructors are actually able to sit down and talk to you and help you.
What advice would you give to other people thinking about their educational future?
If you want to go to a two-year school, challenge yourself. Do it. Do not follow your friends. If that’s financially best for you, then you do that because a two-year college can offer you the same thing; it’s just a different route.