A Guide to “The College Life” in South Carolina

Everything you need to know – and more.
Written by Andrew Bowsher
Written by Andrew Bowsher

Insurance doesn’t have to be boring — that’s what Andrew always says. He specializes in making sense of mundane subjects, and delivering answers to the insurance questions everyday families need.

College guide to South Carolina

Welcome to college in South Carolina. Whether you’re brand new around here or you’ve been living in North Carolina’s shadow your whole life, you’re in for a real treat.

To help get you all settled in and ready for the road ahead, we’ve put together this guide to prep you for life around the state that puts the extra in extracurricular. So, let's get into it.

Chapter One: South Carolina Conversation Starters

Now, easily the most important thing to do once you get to South Carolina is make some new friends. However, in order to make friends with a real-life South Carolinian you gotta know a thing or two about 'em first. You can't just spout off a bunch of facts from the state's Wikipedia page on population and state birds and all and expect to fit in — you gotta go for a way, way deeper dive. 

When trying to assimilate to local culture, try a few of these conversation starters out:

  • “Do you have these pants in seersucker?” Seersucker is a necessity in a climate like South Carolina’s, and the locals can’t get enough of it. It’s a super-light cotton that is so textured that it doesn’t stick to your skin on a humid day. Oh, and it looks super-preppy, too.
  • “Yes sir” and “yes ma’am” is thrown out around here more than the garbage. It’s just that southern flavor of manners.
  • “That boy’s as loud as a dog on linoleum.” Sure, maybe not everyone says that, but locals here love a good Southern saying or two. So be prepared.

Chapter Two: Where To Crash

If you’re not already set on living in the dorms, you’re going to need to know where to lay your ever-growing head at night. So let’s talk about the hot rentals around the area.

The home of the University of South Carolina, Columbia, has the average apartment going for a fair cost of about $1,071/month. In Clemson, home to the school of the same name, you’ll find apartments for about $953/month. But of course that’s right inside the city, and you can probably even find lower prices out in a number of nearby cities for less.

Just make sure you're covered with an affordable renters insurance policy.

Chapter Three: What's with These Locals?

To live among the folks of South Carolina, it’s best if you understand them. First thing to know is that it’s impossible to compare the people on the coast to the upcountry folks in the Blue Ridge Mountain region. The people largely reflect their region’s history, and that history is as diverse as its people.

While southern culture (and hospitality) is alive and well throughout the state, the heavy African influences on the coast are very different from the Americana folk charm of the mountainous regions. It’s like comparing apples to oranges (or oceans to mountains). Both offer sweet benefits while maintaining their integrity as individuals (who knew apples and oranges could be so complex?).

These distinctions also define the political atmosphere. While overall the state remains mostly rooted in conservatism and southern Baptist principles, areas like Charleston and Columbia are seen as more progressive.


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Chapter Four: Where To “Study” around Town

Now that you’re getting all nice and settled into South Carolina life, it’s time to focus on those studies. But everyone knows how distracting roommates, video games, and fridges can be when you’re trying to focus. So why not try some of the great sights and local hot spots for a little study sesh? Here are a few places we recommend:

  • Beaches: Any and all beaches (because who doesn’t like a warm sunny beach day?). Myrtle Beach on the northern coast and Hilton Head further to the south are two favorites. Nothing like studying with a little sand in the toes.
  • Immaculate Consumption Coffee: Students of USC and locals alike love this trendy spot that’s as cozy as the coffee is hot. Perfect for a study group meetup or even solo.
  • Brookgreen Gardens: If nature relaxes you, and why wouldn’t it, this place is the perfect spot to get caught up on reading, write a poem, or whatever. The botanical gardens are incredible, with inspiring artwork everywhere you turn.

Chapter Five: No FOMO Weekend Activities around South Carolina

One of the best things about college is the weekends. And South Carolina has plenty of incredible things to do, see, smell, and eat, to rest your mind from all that studying you’ve been doing. Here are a few of our favorite local things to do:

  • McLeod Plantation Historic Site: An important piece of cultural history. Located in Charleston and established in 1851, it’s now listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
  • Historic Charleston: A port city founded in 1670, this coastal city is known for its gorgeously colored antebellum homes, cobblestone streets, and laid-back southern charm. Tour around town in a horse-drawn carriage or just wander the elegant French Quarter and get lost in its historical allure. It’s a relaxing break from all the semester’s been throwing at you.
  • Fort Sumter: Technically it’s in Charleston, too, but it deserves its own credit. Here’s your history lesson for the day (for those who have a hard time recalling 8th-grade history). Fort Sumter is where the first shots of the Civil War happened. Boom. You just got educated. 
  • Fall for Greenville: For those out there not keen on the beach life, this festival in Greenville (upcountry) is held every year and is the largest food and music festival in the region. Visitors can experience the folksy charm of the mountainous region while sampling all the irresistible home cooking. 

Chapter Six: The Post-College Job Scene

Maybe you know exactly what you want to do after graduation, or maybe you’re still undeclared. Either way, we’re so sure you’re going to want to stick around after the ceremony that we should probably talk about the local job market and which careers are hot right now around town.

First of all, with such a massive coastline and such favorable weather (with the exception of a few hurricane-prone months), most of the state’s employment is ruled by the tourism and hospitality industries. Those industries alone saw a 3% rise in jobs in the last year. 

The state ranks 33rd for jobs when considering factors like job opportunities and economic standing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the unemployment rate at 4.4%, which is hair above the national average, while the state sits at 22nd in the nation in terms of cost of living.

Some cities have been growing much faster than others around here when it comes to job opportunities. For instance, in Columbia, the information technology, manufacturing, health care, and education industries are definitely growing job markets worth paying attention to. And Charleston is seeing a steady rise in the tourism, hospitality, and tech industries.

Can you work with those? If not, nothing to worry about, the opportunities around here are as plentiful as the palmetto trees.

Chapter Seven: Here You Come

It's true that we can't pack in absolutely everything that's important to consider before making a huge cross-country move, but we hope we helped you get the ball rolling.

Good luck. And don’t forget to make sure you're covered with an affordable renters insurance policy.

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