AMERICUS (Sept. 10, 2012)—Complete College Georgia (CCG) – Gov. Nathan Deal’s initiative to increase the numbers of Georgians earning a degree – reached another milestone today with the release of a report with specific plans by institutions in both the University System of Georgia (USG) and Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). 

GSW joins all USG schools in finalizing plans to help more Georgians earn degrees

AMERICUS (Sept. 10, 2012)—Complete College Georgia (CCG) – Gov. Nathan Deal’s initiative to increase the numbers of Georgians earning a degree – reached another milestone today with the release of a report with specific plans by institutions in both the University System of Georgia (USG) and Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG).

The campus plans detail exactly how the ambitious goal of adding an additional 250,000 postsecondary graduates to the state’s rolls by 2020 is going to be met. As institutions begin to implement the plans, higher education officials point out that they will receive continued assistance to improve the plans and will be held accountable for progress.

“The plans are a signal of the immense effort to date, a renewed and strengthened focus on access and graduation, and a commitment to continue and expand the work over the coming years,” said Lynne Weisenbach, the USG’s vice chancellor for Educational Access and Success, who is leading the CCG efforts in the University System. “Increasing Georgia’s college completion rate is not something that can be changed overnight and is about the learning process to continually improve and find what works.”

Weisenbach said that throughout the University System, many efforts will have a positive effect on college affordability by shortening the time to degree, lessening the likelihood a student may stop-out temporarily from their education, and providing options so students may attend school while working, serving their country and raising a family. All 35 University System institutions – including Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) – have built upon localized partnerships with K-12 schools, TCSG, businesses, and foundations in developing the plans.

“An important component in our plan is integrating all aspects of the university community to come together to work toward our CCG goals,” said Brian Adler, Ph.D., vice president for Academic Affairs at GSW. “Academic Affairs is working closely with Student Affairs; Business Affairs is working closely with Enrollment Management. Retention and continued student success is everybody’s business.”

In the executive summary of the Complete College Georgia plan, the authors noted that the campus plans address a number of components that, taken together, will work to increase access to college and college completion. These are:

• Better data collection and analysis to identify strengths and areas for improvement as well as the needs of various regions and populations;

• Increased partnerships with K-12 to improve college readiness for students out of high school;

• The improvement of access to college and graduation for all students;

• The reduction of the time it takes to earn a college degree;

• The development of new models of instruction and learning for students;

• The transformation of remediation.

The campus plans also look at different ways to use technology and online learning to attract new student populations, the ease with which students can transfer between systems and institutions, and the use of prior learning assessment to give college credits to those who have significant life experiences that traditionally have not been factored into a student’s potential.

Here are highlights of the ways in which GSW will be tackling the college completion goals.

Many actions from Georgia Southwestern’s plan focus on first-year students. Much of its data show that retention rates are particularly low in this group. By streamlining administrative barriers, enhancing advising and communication efforts, and increasing student engagement, the University aims to improve student academic success.

In an effort to improve student preparation at the K-12 level, GSW will partner with South Georgia Technical College to create a “college-bound culture” among middle and high school students in the local area. By taking this training into local schools, together GSW and SGTC will improve students’ understanding of college expectations, assist students in choosing appropriate programs, and aid students in navigating the administrative tasks involved in enrolling in higher education.

Enhancements will also be made to GSW’s distance education delivery that should lead to higher quality distance education programs and increase graduation and retention in these programs. Georgia Southwestern’s School of Business Administration, which houses GSW’s largest distance education programs, will work to standardize its delivery of distance education courses to conform to best practice in this area of instructional delivery.

- GSW -