Try This: Touring the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science + Mathematics campus

Girl wearing backpack walks into Residence Hall door
GSSM is a residential, tuition-free school for high school juniors and seniors, also offering virtual options, remote options + summer programs | Photo by the CHStoday team

We recently got to tour the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science + Mathematics (GSSM) in Hartsville — and we’re ready to apply.

While it’s a bit too late for us, applications are open now for rising high school juniors and seniors living in SC. And despite feeling like a university (think: residential dorms, a bustling dining hall, college-level STEM courses, and 90% of faculty holding PhDs), GSSM is a public, tuition-free high school.

What we tried: 

We took a tour led by Student Ambassador Taylor, a senior with a focus in chemical engineering. Her favorite meal in the dining hall? Pizza. Her favorite spot to eat off-campus? Golden Dragon II. And yes, we did ask her some non-food-related questions.

View of cafeteria with tables, chairs, and pillars decorated with art
The dining hall serves up three meals a day with various options for students | Photo by the CHStoday team

We learned about Taylor’s summer research, which all students participate in between their junior and senior years. She worked with Clemson students virtually to research biodegradable polymers, also collaborating with graduate students in Clemson’s mechanical engineering department. Color us impressed.

What not to miss:

GSSM is of course known for the top-tier STEM education it provides, but that doesn’t mean it neglects the humanities. In addition to English and History, students can take multiple music and art classes

Two students sitting at their desk inside the art classroom
Students are welcome to work on projects in the art classroom outside of class throughout the day — we met Raja and Avery, doing origami and painting a pair of jeans (respectively) | Photo by the CHStoday team

The school also offers just about every high school sport you can think of. Their gym and fitness room are pristine, and students also get a membership to the local YMCA.

Coach smiling next to his son at his desk in PE office
We met Coach Jacob Robertson and his mini assistant coach | Photo by the CHStoday team

In addition to the residential program, GSSM offers virtual and remote options for students who’d prefer to take GSSM classes from their home high school or for those who prefer to earn their diploma virtually. Learn more about the STEM Foundations + virtual programs.

What we’re still talking about: 

Walking through the halls, listening to Taylor, and chatting with students and staff, it was abundantly clear how happy they are to be at GSSM.

Picture of young African American woman wearing a blue Governor's School polo and mask
Shoutout to Taylor for being an excellent tour guide | Photo by the CHStoday team

From Finn, a Student Ambassador (like Taylor) who loves STEM but is majoring in History, to Dr. Alison Evans, a licensed psychologist who has been a counselor at the school for 10 years, folks are proud to be a part of the GSSM community + legacy.

Counselor smiles behind desk inside colorful office
If Dr. Evans’ door is open, students are welcome to walk in — or they can make an appointment to meet with her (or the school’s other licensed counselor, Ms. Faith) via email | Photo by the CHStoday team

How you can experience this: 

You can attend a preview day or schedule an e-visit to explore GSSM for yourself.

Things to know if you go: