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SCC’s C-STEP program is accepting future Tar Heels; deadline for high school seniors is April 1

SYLVA – More than 250 miles separate Southwestern Community College’s Jackson Campus from UNC Chapel Hill.

For area residents dreaming of attending the state’s oldest public university, a growing program at SCC brings a Carolina degree within reach.

Now in its fourth year at Southwestern, the Carolina-Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP) is designed to guarantee admission to UNC from community colleges around the state. SCC is now accepting current high school seniors to join the fall C-STEP cohort with a deadline of April 1.

SCC’s first two C-STEP graduates – Puja Patel and Trevor Cole – are currently working toward their degrees in Chapel Hill.

“The University of North Carolina may feel like it’s a long distance away, but this program can make it a reality for high school seniors who graduate this May and come to Southwestern this fall,” said SCC C-STEP advisor Deanne Oppermann. “Besides ensuring admission to UNC, C-STEP saves students a lot of money because the first two years at Southwestern are exponentially more affordable. Plus, this is a great place to get acclimated to college life before moving halfway across the state.”

Once students have transferred to UNC, the C-STEP program continues to provide transition and support services.

For more information about C-STEP, visit or contact Oppermann at 828.339.4298 or



For more than 55 years, Southwestern Community College has served Jackson, Macon, Swain Counties, and the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina by providing a wide range of educational options for residents in all stages of life.

SCC has been ranked among the nation’s Top 10 community colleges six times in the last 15 years – including a No. 1 ranking in’s listing of the “Best Community Colleges & Trade Schools of 2020.”

Through a supportive learning environment, Southwestern offers more than 40 degree programs (including more than 90 credentialing options, 28 of which are offered online) in Health Sciences, Arts and Sciences/College Transfer and Career Technologies.

A variety of community resources – including the Small Business Center, Workforce Continuing Education and Career Services – are also available.

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