Criminal Defense Attorney inConverse, SC

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CDH Law Firm: Giving Hope to
Criminal Defense Clients in
Converse, SC

Getting charged with a crime in Converse can be a traumatic experience. Even "petty" crimes can cause an individual's life to fall apart professionally and personally. Spending time in jail is bad enough, but the ramifications of a criminal record run deep, resulting in loss of employment, loss of friends, and even family. For many people, having a zealous criminal defense attorney in Converse, SC, to defend their rights is the only shot they have of living a normal life.

That's why, if you have been charged with a crime, you need the help of a veteran criminal defense lawyer early in the legal process. That's where CDH Law Firm comes in to give you or your loved one hope when you need it the most.

Our criminal defense law firm was founded to help people just like you - hardworking men and women who are looking at diminished employment opportunities and a possible lifetime of embarrassment. But with our team of experts fighting by your side, you have a much better chance of maintaining your freedom and living a normal, productive life. When it comes to criminal law in Converse, we've seen it all. With decades of combined experience, there is no case too complicated or severe for us to handle, from common DUI charges to complicated cases involving juvenile crimes. Unlike some of our competition, we prioritize personalized service and cutting-edge criminal defense strategies to effectively represent our clients.

Criminal Defense Attorney Converse, SC

Clients rank CHSA Law, LLC as the top choice for Converse criminal defense because we provide:

  • One-on-One Counsel
  • Education on the Converse Legal Process and Its Risks
  • Ardent, Effective Representation
  • Commitment to Our Clients and Defending Their Rights
  • Prompt Inquiry Response
  • Robust Experience with Criminal Law Cases in Converse
  • Innovative Defense Strategies
  • Effective, Thorough Research and Investigation

Choosing the right criminal defense lawyer in Converse can mean the difference between conviction and acquittal. Our firm has represented thousands of clients in the Lowcountry, and we're ready to defend you too. Some of our specialties include:

 Law Firm Converse, SC
The-Cobb-Dill-Hammett-Difference

DUI Cases
in Converse, SC

DUI penalties in Converse can be very harsh. Many first-time DUI offenders must endure a lifelong criminal record, license suspension, and the possibility of spending time in jail. Officers and judges take DUI very seriously, with 30% of traffic fatalities in South Carolina involving impaired drivers, according to NHTSA. Criminal convictions can have lasting impacts on your life, which is why CDH Law Firm works so hard to get these charges dismissed or negotiated down. In some cases, we help clients avoid jail time altogether.

 Criminal Defense Lawyer Converse, SC
When you hire our DUI defense firm, our team will always work towards your best interests and will go above and beyond to achieve the best outcome in your case. Depending on the circumstances of your DUI charges, we will investigate whether:
  • Your DUI stop was legal
  • You were administered a field sobriety test correctly
  • The breathalyzer used was calibrated correctly and properly maintained
  • Urine and blood tests were administered and collected properly

The bottom line? Our criminal law defense attorneys will do everything possible to keep you out of jail with a clean permanent record. It all starts with a free consultation, where we will take time to explain the DUI process. We'll also discuss your defense options and speak at length about the differences between going to trial and accepting a plea bargain.

DUI Penalties in Converse, SC

The consequences of a DUI in Converse depend on a number of factors, including your blood alcohol level and how many DUIs you have received in the last 10 years. If you're convicted, the DUI charge will remain on your criminal history and can be seen by anyone who runs a background check on you. Sometimes, a judge will require you to enter alcohol treatment or install an interlock device on your automobile.

If you're on the fence about hiring a criminal defense lawyer in Converse, SC, consider the following DUI consequences:

Criminal Defense Attorney Converse, SC

First Offense

Offense

48 hours to 90 days

in jail

with fines ranging from

$400 to $1,000

Second Offense

Offense

Five days to three years

in jail

with fines ranging from

$2,100 to $6,500

Third Offense

Offense

60 days to five years

in jail

with fines ranging from

$3,800 to $10,000

Additional consequences can include:

1

Alcohol or Drug Treatment

When convicted of DUI in South Carolina, most offenders must join the Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program. This program mandates that offenders complete a drug and alcohol assessment and follow the recommended treatment options.

 Law Firm Converse, SC

2

Community Service

Some first-time DUI offenders in Converse may choose to complete community service in lieu of jail time. Community service hours are usually equal to the length of jail time an offender would be required to serve.

 Criminal Defense Lawyer Converse, SC

Sanctions to Your Driver's License

Typically, when a person is convicted of driving under the influence in Converse, their driver's license is restricted or suspended. The length of restriction or suspension depends on how many prior DUI convictions an individual has.

First DUI Offense

First-time DUI offenders must endure a six-month license suspension. Drivers convicted with a blood-alcohol level of .15% or more do not qualify for a provisional license. However, sometimes they may still drive using an ignition interlock device.

Second DUI Offense

Offenders convicted of a second DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for two years.

Third DUI Offense

Offenders convicted of a third DUI charge must use an ignition interlock device (IID) for three years. That term increases to four years if the driver is convicted of three DUIs in five years.

Immobilized Vehicle

For offenders with two or more convictions, the judge will immobilize their vehicle if it is not equipped with an IID. When a judge immobilizes a vehicle, the owner must turn over their registration and license plate. Clearly, the consequences of receiving a DUI in Converse can be life-changing, and not in a good way. The good news is that with CDH Law Firm, you have a real chance at beating your charges and avoiding serious fines and jail time. Every case is different, which is why it's so important that you call our office as soon as possible if you are charged with a DUI.

Traffic Violation Cases

Most drivers brush off traffic law violations as minor offenses, but the fact of the matter is they are criminal matters to be taken seriously. Despite popular opinion, Traffic Violation cases in Converse can carry significant consequences like fines and even incarceration. If you or someone you love has been convicted of several traffic offenses, your license could be suspended, restricting your ability to work and feed your family.

Every driver should take Traffic Violations seriously. If you're charged with a traffic crime, it's time to protect yourself and your family with a trusted criminal defense lawyer in Converse, SC. Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC is ready to provide the legal guidance and advice you need to beat your traffic charges. We'll research the merits of your case, explain what charges you're facing, discuss your defense options, and strategize an effective defense on your behalf.

Common Converse
Traffic Violations That CDH Law
Firm Fights

There are dozens and dozens of traffic laws in Converse, all of which affect drivers in some way. Our Converse defense attorneys fight a full range of violations, including but not limited to the following:

Criminal Defense Attorney Converse, SC
  • Driving Under Suspension: If you drive while your license is suspended, revoked, or canceled, you could be looking at 30 days in jail and fines up to $300.
  • Driving Under the Influence: Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated on drugs or alcohol is illegal and often results in jail time and fines.
  • Reckless Driving: You could be ordered to pay up to $200 in fines or jailed for up to 30 days if you drive with wanton disregard for the safety of other people.
  • Racing: You can be cited and fined if you aid or participate in street racing.
  • Hit and Run: When you leave the scene of an accident that involved injury to another party, you can be arrested. This serious charge can lead to up to one year in jail and fines of up to $5,000 for first-time offenders.
  • Disregard Traffic Signals: Drivers must obey all traffic signals and control devices, less they be ticketed and sometimes fined.

As seasoned traffic violation lawyers, we know how frustrating it can be to get charged with a Traffic Violation. While some traffic charges can be minor, others are severe and can affect your life for years to come. Don't leave your fate up to chance call CDH Law Firm today for the highest-quality Traffic Violation representation in Converse.

Juvenile Crime Cases in
Converse, SC

At Cobb Dill Hammett, LLC, we understand that children are still growing and learning about the world around them. As such, they may make mistakes that get them into trouble with the law. Children and teens who are arrested in Converse can face much different futures than other children their age. Some face intensive probation, while others are made to spend time in jail.

This happens most often when a child's parents fail to retain legal counsel for their son or daughter. Cases referred to the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice often move quicker than adult cases, so finding a good lawyer is of utmost importance. With that said, a compassionate criminal defense attorney in Converse, SC, can educate you and your child about their alleged charges. To help prevent your child from going to a detention center, we will devise a strategy to achieve favorable results in their case.

 Law Firm Converse, SC
 Criminal Defense Lawyer Converse, SC

Juvenile Detention Hearings

Unlike adults, juveniles don't have a constitutional right to a bond hearing. Instead, once your child is taken into custody a Detention Hearing is conducted within 48 hours. This hearing is similar to a combination of a Bond Hearing and a Preliminary Hearing. Unfortunately, there is little time to prepare for these hearings, which is why you must move quickly and call CDH law firm as soon as possible.

Our team gathers police reports, petitions, interviews your child at the DJJ, speaks with you about the case and talks to the prosecutor to discover if they have plans for detention. In most cases, we strive to avoid detention and seek alternatives like divisionary programs or treatment facilities. This strategy better addresses your child's issues and keeps them out of the juvenile legal system in Converse. If your child is charged with a crime, and South Carolina decides to prosecute, your child will appear before a family court judge, who will find them delinquent or not delinquent. There are no juries in juvenile cases in South Carolina, which is why it's crucial to have a lawyer present to defend your child if they go in front of a judge.

Common penalties for juveniles charged with crimes in Converse include:

Criminal Defense Attorney Converse, SC
  • Probation: Children charged with probation are released to their parents or guardians. Depending on their charges, they must abide by certain stipulations while at home and may be subject to random drug screenings. Violation of probation often results in jail time.
  • 90 Days in Juvenile Detention Center: When probation is not a viable option, prosecutors may push for 90 days of jail time in a juvenile detention facility.
  • Juvenile Detention: Children who commit very serious crimes can be sent to a juvenile detention center for a long time. These sentences can last up to the child's 21st birthday.
  • School Expulsion: When a child is convicted of a crime, their school is notified of the offense. Sometimes, the administration may decide to expel the child from school for the misdemeanors or felonies they commit.

We Fight to Protect
Your Rights So You Can
Provide for Your Family

Whether you are facing a DUI charge or a serious traffic violation, CDH Law Firm is here to fight for your rights so you can continue living life. The future might seem bleak, but our criminal defense lawyers in Converse, SC, have the tools, experience, and strategy to win your case, as we have with so many others. Don't lose hope call our office today and maintain your freedom tomorrow.

Ask us anything

Call Now 843-936-6680 PH

Latest News in Converse, SC

Converse University Unveils Inaugural Men’s Swimming Signing Class

Courtesy: Converse AthleticsSPARTANBURG, S.C. – Converse University head swim coach Logan Simpson announces the first-ever men’s swim team signing class.“We’ve been waiting for this one for a while!” Simpson said, “It’s always impressive when a group of athletes step up to start something special. We’ve got a great group of guys...

Courtesy: Converse Athletics

SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Converse University head swim coach Logan Simpson announces the first-ever men’s swim team signing class.

“We’ve been waiting for this one for a while!” Simpson said, “It’s always impressive when a group of athletes step up to start something special. We’ve got a great group of guys who are committed to building a strong team culture, working hard, swimming fast, and laying the foundation for a championship swim program. We have lofty goals and an audacious vision for both of our swim programs, for the men’s team that pursuit begins this year. I can’t wait to get started!”

Landon Duffie is the first signee in the history of the Converse men’s swimming program, Duffie comes to Converse from Mt. Pleasant, S.C. after a stellar career at Oceanside collegiate Academy, which included 2022 3A All-State honors in the 100 Butterfly and 100 backstroke. Duffie, also qualified for the state championship all four years of high school and was named captain prior to the 2022 season. Duffie left Oceanside with four school records and helped the team to a region championship. Outside of athletics, Duffie was a member of FCA and National Honor Society.

Chirs Feuers is the second-ever men’s signee, who hails from Bluffton, S.C. While at May River, Feuers qualified for the 2022 South Carolina 4A State Championship meet in the 100 breaststroke and the 100 Butterfly events. Feuers was also a stand out swimmer for Bluffton’s FINS swim team. Outside of athletics, Feuers was a member of Beta Club at May River high school.

Ben Huston is from Mt. Pleasant, S.C. and was a star on the Oceanside Collegiate Academy swim team. Huston qualified for the 3A State Championships every year of his prep career and grabbed a pair of top-8 finishes at the 2022 SCHSL Championships. Huston, also scored two top-15 finishes at the SC Senior State Championships last summer, while representing SCSC.

Micah Lesley is from Belton, S.C. and competed for Wren high school. Lesley, was a team captain and a two-time state qualifier. Lesley, also competed on the Anderson Area YMCA Makos swim team, where he was a regional and state qualifier.

Kirill Lyzhin is from Kingwood, Texas, where he competed for Kingwood high school. Lyzhin, also competed for Blue Tide Aquatics and Grande Prairie Piranhas swim team. In the Senior Gulf Championships, Lyzhin won the 400 IM relay and finished second in the 500 free and third in the 1,000 free. He was also a TISCA finalist in the 500 yard free event. At the Summer Gulf Championships, he won the 200 LCM Back, finished second in the 400 LCM IM and in the 100 Back. For the Grande Prairie Piranhas, set club youth records in the 200 free, 50 back, 100 back and 200 back events.

Keith Rogers is from Wilton Manors, Fla., where he was a stand out swimmer and water polo player at Fort Lauderdale high school. Rogers is a three-time Florida high school state championship qualifier. As a team captain, Rogers anchored the FLHS’s 200 free relay team that finished fifth at the 2022 FHSAA 4A State Championship meet. Rogers, also earned All-Broward County honors for the FLHS Water Polo team and he competes in track and field.

Jonathan Santibanez originally from Puebla, Mexico, Santibanez swam at Barton Community College last season. Santibanez had a standout career at the JUCO level, earning a spot as a finalist in the 50 breaststroke at the 2022 NJCAA Nationals. Santibanez qualified frot he 2021 NAIA National Championship Meet while representing Williams Baptist University.

Manny Schlictmann is from Rutherfordton, N.C., where he was a three-sport athlete at Thomas Jefferson classical Academy. Schlictmann was a two-year captain of both the baseball and swim teams and a one-year captain for the soccer team. On the swim team, Schlictmann earned the leadership award, coaches award and the most improved award. Schlictmann, also helped the team to a conference championship during the 2022-23 season and qualified for regionals in the 100-breaststroke event.

Henry Winstead is from Charleston, S.C. and was a four-year standout for the South Carolina Swim Club and Goose Creek high school. Winstead won the Region 6A 200 Freestyle Championship and was both a 200 and 500 state qualifier. A four-year team captain and two-time MVP at his high school, Winstead also helped the SC Swim Club to a Men’s State Championship SCY and the State Championship LCM. Outside of athletics, was a member of National Beta Club and the Student Lighthouse team. Was a four year member of the Principles honor roll, finished seventh in the National Beta Convention Engineering and placed second and third in the State Beta Convention.

Cameron Leverette is from Rutherfordton, N.C., where he was a standout for Chase high school. A freestyle specialist, Cameron qualified for the North Carolina 1A/2A State Championships as a senior, where he anchored two relays for the Trojans, including a top-16 finish in the 200 freestyle relay.

Louis Milczynski is from Montauban France and is transferring in from Barton Community College. At JUCO National, Milczynski notched “A” Finals appearances in the 50 breaststroke and the 100 IM, while turning in a “B” Finals performance in the 50 Freestyle and competing as an integral part of Barton’s relays. He was instrumental in securing a fourth place team finish at JUCO Nationals for BCC.

For all the latest news and information on the Converse University swim program, log onto govalkyries.com today.

Converse Japan Starfire SC J Series: Everything we know so far

Sneaker enthusiasts, get ready! Converse Japan Starfire SC J Series is unveiling a fresh collection. Drawing inspiration from the late 70s Star Cruiser, this series brings the perfect blend of classic design and modern technology.The Converse Japan Starfire SC J Series includes an original red colorway along with two new additions in grey and black. These shoes are visually appealing and pack in features that prioritize style and utility, such as long-haired suede layered on a Cordura ripstop base and a Vibram Megagrip sole.Whi...

Sneaker enthusiasts, get ready! Converse Japan Starfire SC J Series is unveiling a fresh collection. Drawing inspiration from the late 70s Star Cruiser, this series brings the perfect blend of classic design and modern technology.

The Converse Japan Starfire SC J Series includes an original red colorway along with two new additions in grey and black. These shoes are visually appealing and pack in features that prioritize style and utility, such as long-haired suede layered on a Cordura ripstop base and a Vibram Megagrip sole.

While the exact release date has not been shared, Converse Japan has listed the series for JPY 22,000 each (roughly USD 150). Interested buyers can avail of an arrival notification reminder via the official site.

The design and comfort of Converse Japan Starfire SC J Series are unbeatable

The Starfire SC J features impressive durability with its robust sole, capable of handling various tasks. The Ortholite insoles add lasting comfort, reinforcing Converse's commitment to user convenience.

The influence of New Balance has made this model so popular. Interestingly, the new Starfire SC J Series bears a resemblance to New Balance's 574 model. Its elevated and slightly thick sole mirrors the base of New Balance, adding a contemporary feel.

Next comes the unparalleled construction and style of this pair. Deliberately aged, hairy suede and water-repellent Cordura nylon make up the upper paneling of the Converse Starfire SC J. Along with a 574-esque sole, it offers slip and abrasion resistance, ensuring quality and functionality.

Three Colorways:

This Starfire SC J Series by Converse Japan lands in three colorways: red, grey, and black. These options enhance the collection's appeal and offer variety for different tastes.

History of Converse takes you back to 1908

Founded in 1908 by Marquis Mills Converse in Massachusetts, the Converse Rubber Shoe Company initially produced winterized footwear. During World War II, it shifted to military production. Post-war, it focused on athletic footwear, introducing high-top shoes.

The 1950s and 1960s saw its promotion through the Converse Basketball Yearbook. In 1962, low-cut All-Stars were launched, available in school colors by 1966. The company customized shoes for the New York Renaissance.

Converse was prominent in the U.S. But in the 1970s, it lost its earned position. Nike took over the brand in 2003, and it became a popular fashion brand. In 2023, they generated $2.4 billion and are now launching a new collection. The brand stayed popular in shoe fashion because of new designs and working with others.

Over the years, its design innovations and collaborations have kept the brand at the forefront of footwear fashion. The Converse Japan Starfire SC J Series marks a noteworthy addition to Converse's rich legacy, bridging the classic Starfire silhouette with modern design features.

With aesthetic appeal and cutting-edge technology reminiscent of New Balance, these sneakers are a must-have. So, if you are a sneakerhead who loves to have a collection of all the best sneakers on earth, here's one more for you!

BASF seeking apprentices for “earn and learn” program in Converse

CONVERSE, SC, June 1, 2021 – BASF is seeking applicants for a new apprenticeship program at its Converse, South Carolina facility. The program is part of the company’s North American Apprenticeship Development Program (NAADP), which aims to meet future talent needs for a skilled and diverse technician workforce with an emphasis on attracting more females to these roles. With another program offered at the company’s Seneca site, this is the second apprenticeship program BASF has launched in South Carolina.The twelve-m...

CONVERSE, SC, June 1, 2021 – BASF is seeking applicants for a new apprenticeship program at its Converse, South Carolina facility. The program is part of the company’s North American Apprenticeship Development Program (NAADP), which aims to meet future talent needs for a skilled and diverse technician workforce with an emphasis on attracting more females to these roles. With another program offered at the company’s Seneca site, this is the second apprenticeship program BASF has launched in South Carolina.

The twelve-month apprenticeship program at the Converse site pays apprentices a full-time wage to participate in on-the-job training while earning a certificate in Process Control Technology from Spartanburg Community College. Pay begins at $16.35 per hour and increases each quarter to $18.50 per hour by the end of the year-long program. In addition to paying a competitive wage, BASF offers full medical, dental and vision benefits, paid vacation, and covers the cost of tuition, books and fees associated with the certificate program. At the end of the program, apprentices have the skills and credentials to be placed in permanent positions with salaries starting at $18.50 per hour, with annual merit increases and bonuses available. The application for the apprenticeship program will be open until June 25. To apply, visit www.basf.us/apprentice.

“BASF is a great company because it offers career progression opportunities to all its employees, so you can go anywhere you want to, whether that’s broadening your skillset, growing your management abilities or even eventually working at another one of BASF’s sites around the country or in other parts of the world. Our managers are committed to helping you reach your goals, and the apprenticeship program is a great first step to building a career you love,” said Converse Site Manager Jerome Kirkland.

The Process Control Technology certificate program at Spartanburg Community College (SCC) trains students to meet the needs of advanced manufacturing-focused work that has grown tremendously over the past decade throughout the Upstate. As part of SCC’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Industrial Technologies, the program provides students extensive hands-on training in lab environments, allowing them to continuously practice concepts learned in the classroom. PCT labs feature state-of-the-art equipment and simulations built to emulate the highest production standards and best practices found in the workplace. Graduates leave SCC not only with academic credentials, but first-hand, practical experience that is critical to what they will experience on the job. In addition, PCT certificate graduates may continue their SCC education and pursue an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Process Control Technology, opening the doors to even more employment opportunities, career growth and success.

“This partnership will ensure BASF’s workforce will have the skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive market. These apprentices will be trained in subjects such as Industry 4.0 and Process Control technologies on the most advanced equipment available,” said Jay Coffer, Department Chair of Advance Manufacturing, Spartanburg Community College.

“Apprenticeships are an effective way for BASF to ‘grow their own’ highly skilled employees, and students love it because they can earn while they learn in this model that combines job-related education, on-the-job learning and a scalable wage,” said Jennifer Little, Director of Spartanburg Community College Career Services.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, apprenticeship programs bring about many benefits, including: enhanced employee retention, a safer workplace, a stable and reliable pipeline of qualified workers and a systematic approach to training, which ensures that employees are prepared and certified to produce at the highest skill levels required.

“The ideal candidate for our apprenticeship program is one who has a passion to learn and grow, with the motivation, dedication and drive to succeed,” said Dr. Susan Emmerich, BASF’s NAADP Project Implementation Manager. “No manufacturing experience is necessary to be considered for the program, but an innate curiosity to understand the way things work, desire to work collaboratively, and willingness to learn from experienced technicians are the foundation for success.”

BASF’s Converse site has a fundamental focus on sustainability, as a site that recycles specialty chemical catalysts, such as old catalytic converters from vehicles, which means that fewer metals needed throughout everyday life need to be extracted from the earth. Specialty chemical catalysts and precious metal chemicals are used to produce a wide variety of products, including pharmaceuticals, fragrances, herbicides, fertilizers, plastics, automotive emission catalysts and more. The site supplies customers with fresh catalyst, as well as refining spent ones in a full-loop service. The Converse site is a proud supporter of the Spartanburg community, donating regularly to first responders, local non-profits and more. It also has a focus on diversity and inclusion, creating a welcome space for people from all walks of life.

About BASF

BASF Corporation, headquartered in Florham Park, New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has approximately 17,000 employees in North America and had sales of $18.7 billion in 2020. For more information about BASF’s North American operations, visit www.basf.com/us.

At BASF, we create chemistry for a sustainable future. We combine economic success with environmental protection and social responsibility. More than 110,000 employees in the BASF Group contribute to the success of our customers in nearly all sectors and almost every country in the world. Our portfolio is organized into six segments: Chemicals, Materials, Industrial Solutions, Surface Technologies, Nutrition & Care and Agricultural Solutions. BASF generated sales of €59 billion in 2020. BASF shares are traded on the stock exchange in Frankfurt (BAS) and as American Depositary Receipts (BASFY) in the U.S. Further information at http://www.basf.com.

Converse brings master's of teaching to University Center

Converse College has become the newest addition to the University Center of Greenville.The Spartanburg-based college will begin offering its Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Early Childhood Education degree at the Greenville center in July, with plans to add other programs in the near future."Our new presence in Greenville will provide convenient access to students in this area and will help to fill Greenville’s workforce development needs,” said Converse President Krista Newkirk.Conver...

Converse College has become the newest addition to the University Center of Greenville.

The Spartanburg-based college will begin offering its Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in Early Childhood Education degree at the Greenville center in July, with plans to add other programs in the near future.

"Our new presence in Greenville will provide convenient access to students in this area and will help to fill Greenville’s workforce development needs,” said Converse President Krista Newkirk.

Converse's classes in teaching contribute to an expanding list of master's degree programs offered by other universities at the center and designed to put more teachers into South Carolina classrooms.

Clemson, for instance, offers a MAT in Special Education and Middle Level Education at the University Center. Anderson University features a MAT in Elementary Education.

“Opening with our graduate programs at UCG — and particularly with our MAT that is in such high demand for career-changers interested in early childhood education — is the perfect launch pad for our continued growth," Newkirk said.

Converse's MAT program, which takes about a year to a year and a half to complete, is open to anyone with a bachelor's degree in any field. Students will obtain certification to teach young children, birth to third grade, in a classroom setting.

Career-changers

The University Center's MAT programs appeal particularly to career-changers who've already earned a bachelor's degree outside of education, said David A. Taylor, CEO and president of the University Center.

"Our average student is 32 years old, but they may range from 22 to 50," Taylor said. "Usually it's people with a decent amount of career experience in another area and they've always wanted to teach. You'll find people who have returned to work, maybe they were in the home for a while or they were accountants or lawyers or in any number of other fields."

With about 1,500-1,700 students every year, the University Center's programs are dominated by three career areas: education, health care and business, Taylor said.

"At the University Center, we work very hard to align the academic programs with the economic needs of the community," Taylor said.

Programs are offered at the center by seven member institutions: Anderson University, Clemson University, Furman University, Greenville Technical College, the University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina Upstate and now Converse College.

The University Center, at McAlister Square on Pleasantburg Drive, is celebrating its 31st year of operation.

Teacher shortage

The master's in teaching programs will help address a teacher shortage in South Carolina that is expected to get worse in the next few years as many educators retire, Taylor said.

South Carolina’s Center for Education Recruitment, Retention and Advancement (CERRA) reported 481 vacant positions in schools statewide at the beginning of the 2016-17 school year, up by 32 vacancies from the previous year.

About 19 percent all vacancies require the early childhood certification that will be provided by Converse at the University Center.

“Finding new teachers can be difficult for many districts, particularly with the state’s ongoing trend of more teachers leaving, more vacancies to fill, and fewer S.C. graduates eligible for teacher certification each year,” said Jennifer Garrett, coordinator of Research & Program Development for CERRA.

Converse will begin with 15-20 students at the University Center but is planning other programs for the future. The college expects to launch a Master of Marriage and Family Therapy degree at the University Center in the fall of 2019.

Having well-trained teachers in the early grades is particularly important for a state like South Carolina, which has struggled with pockets of low achievement, Taylor said.

"The formative years are critically important to success and completion at each of the next levels of education," Taylor said.

But alleviating South Carolina's teacher shortage will require more than making programs more readily available for students, Taylor said.

"You certainly are going to have to make the field more attractive to young people," Taylor said. "When you look at some of the starting salaries in computer science, technology and business, you have to consider teaching as a competitive career field and you need to have competitive salaries."

Paul Hyde covers education and everything else under the South Carolina sun. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @PaulHyde7.

Converse College: Struggling? Or Thriving?

Converse College is a private liberal arts institution located in Spartanburg, S.C. that offers undergraduate degrees to women and co-educational graduate programs. The school made news last year when it celebrated its 125th anniversary by slashing tuition costs by 43 percent (to $16,500) in an effort to “solve America’s college affordability issues.”“Converse is the first institution in South Carolina to make such a move and among only 10 institutions in the nation to do so since 2012,” ...

Converse College is a private liberal arts institution located in Spartanburg, S.C. that offers undergraduate degrees to women and co-educational graduate programs. The school made news last year when it celebrated its 125th anniversary by slashing tuition costs by 43 percent (to $16,500) in an effort to “solve America’s college affordability issues.”

“Converse is the first institution in South Carolina to make such a move and among only 10 institutions in the nation to do so since 2012,” the school noted at the time.

The school claimed to have “reworked its operating budget” to accommodate the reduced tuition – while maintaining an 11-to-1 student-faculty ratio.

“We heard families’ concerns about the rising price of college and we committed ourselves to finding a sustainable solution,” the school’s president, Betsy Fleming, said. “We now want to start a new conversation in higher education—one that focuses on real value in terms of both quality and cost.”

Did it work?

It’s not immediately clear. Sources at the school tell us Converse is currently facing a “multi-million dollar deficit” due to the tuition cuts and that Fleming’s administration is “painting a rosy outlook despite a concerted effort to slash costs.”

“The cost reductions seem to be a smoke screen for a ten-year pattern of mismanagement and malfeasance by the current president and administration,” one source tells us. “There may also be reason to question the use of funds in various specified endowments.”

School officials don’t seem too concerned about those reports. Last month, Converse welcomed 300 new students to its campus – a fifteen percent increase in enrollment from the previous year. That puts the school’s total undergraduate enrollment at more than 835 students – a 25 percent increase over the last four years.

The school also boasted a “20 percent increase in gifts over the previous year,” and unveiled several new academic and athletic facilities built with private gifts.

Hmmmm …

Of one thing there can be no doubt: Tuition costs are out of control in South Carolina (particularly at government-run schools), so it’s nice to see one institution attempting to ease the burden on parents and students while preserving core capabilities.

Oh, and speaking of core capabilities, it’s nice to see a school doing its job as opposed to … well, not.

Converse will rise (or fall) based on the free market. Unlike the government-run schools … which will continue to bleed taxpayers dry no matter how well or how poorly they perform.

Which brings us back to our fundamental point: Higher education is not a core function of government, and all thirty-three of South Carolina’s state-supported institutions of “higher learning” should be immediately freed to pursue their destinies in the private sector.

It’s time to embrace competition – not perpetual subsidization.

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