From High School to Pharmacy: PTC Student Gets Head-Start Through Dual Enrollment

In describing his future, Fernando Reyes talks a lot about passion and drive. It’s one of the reasons he chose Dual Enrollment at Piedmont Technical College.

“I wanted to get ahead of my peers,” he said. “This summer, I will be certified to be a pharmacy technician. Becoming a pharmacist is a personal drive.”

After seeing his mom, aunt, and grandmother cope with health issues, Reyes says he became passionate about finding a way to make a difference. He’s been accepted to the pharmacy program at the University of South Carolina and will arrive in Columbia with a head start on his college career.

Dual Enrollment is an advanced-credit program for high school juniors and seniors. Classes are available online, at the student’s high school, or on the PTC campus.

“I took them online and on the campus in Greenwood,” said Reyes, who is a Greenwood High School graduate.

Some dual enrollment students are planning to obtain advanced degrees. Others are seeking a credential that will allow them to begin a professional career as soon as they leave high school. Reyes is enjoying both since his pharmacy tech certification will place him in a high-demand field to earn extra money while he attends USC.

There are four ways to participate in Dual Enrollment at PTC:

  • Traditional Dual Enrollment courses are taken at the student’s high school with their high school instructors.
  • OnDECK classes are offered on a PTC campus and let students earn high school units and college credit at the same time.
  • PTC has partnered with some school districts on a Middle College that allows high school juniors and seniors the chance to earn 48-plus college credit hours over the course of their high school career.
  • Early admission is for students looking to earn credit through PTC but not through their high school.

Some students, like Reyes, receive an additional University Studies Certificate, which is designed for PTC students who plan to transfer. It recognizes students who have earned 30 transferable college hours, including many of the introductory courses students must take at a four-year college.

PTC offers more than 80 courses approved to transfer to any senior public institution in the state by the S.C. Commission of Higher Education. Dual Enrollment students earn both high school and college credit. Any high school rising junior or senior can apply, including home school students.

Some students have a career in mind that doesn’t require a four-year degree. Through the Career Quick Start program, students take the first steps toward and, in some cases, complete industry-recognized credentials in a critical workforce area while still in high school.

Reyes is a first-generation college student. Dual Enrollment at PTC is designed to be affordable. South Carolina residents attend tuition-free if they take at least 6 credit hours per semester (generally at least two classes) at their high school, on campus, or online.

“He did a good job, and I’m proud of him,” Fernando’s father, Jose Reyes, said. “I try not to push him, but he sees that I work a lot, and he’s tried to help us out.”

Before applying, students should understand Dual Enrollment is an opportunity to take courses at the college level, so the amount of work necessary to succeed is usually much greater than in high school. Reyes says he heard about Dual Enrollment from classmates. Once he entered the program, other Greenwood classmates would ask him if he was enjoying it and if the classes were difficult.

“In college, it depends on you if you want to learn or not,” he says. “If you stay on top of your classes, you’ll be fine. Ask questions if you’re confused.”

He says the biggest benefits, in addition to free tuition, were “being able to get ahead and learn about the environment I want to be in. I’d say if you’re trying to get ahead – and you have a drive and a passion – give it a try.”

There are those two words again.

Dual Enrollment is available at high schools throughout the PTC footprint. If they think Dual Enrollment might be right for them, students should talk with their high school guidance counselor.

Learn more online at or contact PTC’s Dual Enrollment Office at (864) 941-8315.