The Power of Higher Education

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Advanced degrees linked to better health, community involvement and well-being

Knowledge is power.

And the power of higher education can last a lifetime.

People who earn college degrees not only are more likely to have higher-paying jobs and increased job security, but also health insurance, retirement savings and other benefits, according to the College Board’s “Education Pays 2016” report. The nonprofit group’s study also links education to better health, community involvement and well-being. 

In a community that thrives on tourism, education doesn’t necessarily come from a traditional textbook. It comes from a combination of hands-on training, like job shadowing and internships, and classes dedicated to all aspects of the hospitality industry.   

“A bachelor’s degree in hospitality management is a ticket to management,” said Charlie Calvert, professor and hospitality management department chair at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. “(Graduates) move to supervisor and management positions quicker.”

Two institutions coming to southern Beaufort County will give students the power of a hospitality education in an area where they can learn hands-on and in the classroom.

USCB broke ground last month on its Hilton Head Island campus on Office Park Road. The campus will house the school’s hospitality management program, a center for the hospitality industry and executive education, a teaching and learning facility for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and a civic gathering place and resource for the community.

A true hospitality program is relatively rare, Calvert said. Many schools may offer a “track,” but a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management is an applied degree that includes courses in catering, hotel management and other topics so students are prepared as “generalists in the lodging and food service fields.”

The students and graduates of USCB’s hospitality program will be entrenched in Hilton Head’s tourism industry, learning alongside professionals in the field.

“The majority of our students will live, learn and study on Hilton Head Island. Then, hopefully, they will stay on the island, prepared for management and as entrepreneurs,” Calvert said. “It’s exciting to be back on the island, and to have young people have a chance to work part-time on the island, and it will add a vibrancy to the area and will help improve the service level.”

The Technical College of the Lowcountry also has plans for a culinary school in southern Beaufort County.

“This comes out of the reccurring request and need for workers in that industry,” said Leigh Copeland, assistant vice president of marketing and public relations at TCL. “Restaurants — so we hear — say that they need trained, professional workers, and we feel this program will definitely help meet their needs.”

Though it’s several years from completion, the culinary school is planning a 25,000-square-foot facility with multipurpose teaching kitchens, classrooms, a teaching restaurant, a restaurant open to public, and a variety of disciplines and degrees. 

“Education empowers everyone at any age,” Copeland said. The average age of students at TCL is 27, with half of the students older than 25 who may be looking to re-invent themselves or find a new skill. “No matter where someone is — education, age other background — we’re here to help them get them where they want to be.”