AASCU Innovations Exchange
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Georgia College
Project Title:Undeclared = Prepared: An Intentional, Integrated Approach to Promoting Freshman Success Institution Name:Georgia College & State University Innovation Category:Student Success Project Director:Mike Augustine, Senior Director for Advising and Retention, Center for Student SuccessContact Information:(478) 445-2362, mike.augustine@gcsu.eduWebsite:
Project Description:Georgia College faculty and staff connect and collaborate to integrate four initiatives into the foundation of our retention program for approximately 250 undeclared freshmen each year, thereby retaining undeclared students at higher rates than the national trends for undeclared students.  The initiatives are POUNCE Early Registration (admitted freshmen obtain class schedules beginning in February), Advisor-taught Freshman Seminars, MAP-Works early alert monitoring, and DegreeWorks student degree plan development. These incoming freshmen benefit by forming early connections with their advisor and the institution; faculty and staff “direct connects” benefit from increased insight into the students’ college transition and potential struggles; and academic departments benefit in their scheduled offerings by the student use of degree plans.  

The collaborative retention effort resulting from the integration of these four initiatives  has three significant objectives:

  • To increase the likelihood of academic success among undeclared freshmen at Georgia College.
    • Evaluated by examining semester GPA and academic standing data.
  • To increase the opportunity for student-to-campus connection and integration for undeclared freshmen at Georgia College.
    • Evaluated by utilizing MAP-Works transitions survey data.
  • To positively impact the retention rate of undeclared freshmen at Georgia College.
    • Evaluated by reviewing institutional retention data.
  • POUNCE Early Registration helps benefit admissions yield rates.  Enrollment yield rates for students who participate in POUNCE equaled 96%.
  • CSS advisors also serve as the instructor for the Freshmen Seminar course, allowing weekly advisor-student contact and support.  Year one retention rates for these students exceeded 80%.
  • The use of MAP-Works moved to full implementation during Fall 2010. We expect the resulting specialized support provided to students to help increase freshman retention rates.
  • Increasingly, academic departments are encouraging students to create four-year plans in DegreeWorks.  Doing so helps students’ timely progression and assists planning of course offerings. 
Challenges/Problems Encountered:

Our challenges can be classified in two categories:

  • Resources:  A primary current challenge involves limited and dwindling resources.  Statewide economic shortfalls are resulting in cuts to university and departmental budgets and staff are spread thin (one example is our Technology department which provides a large portion of support for these initiatives). 
  • Buy-In:  Another challenge is gaining faculty acceptance and encouraging usage of new initiatives, such as MAP-Works and DegreeWorks.  Faculty and staff “fatigue” can be an issue, especially in light of additional initiatives being added to their workload.  Along similar lines, maintaining training for multiple new initiatives can be difficult.
Evaluation Approach:Data elements needed to evaluate success were already in place.  In addition to retention data, Enrollment Management staff review and analyze GPA and academic standing data each fall to monitor the number of freshmen on academic warning.  This number has decreased 47% over the past two years.  MAP-Works and DegreeWorks have robust reporting mechanisms that allow easy access to data.  We can also easily monitor the growing number of students who have created degree plans.
Potential for Replication:Georgia College is fortunate to have enjoyed a strong history of customer service and innovation, which has allowed us to collaborate on these initiatives to bring them to fruition and implementation.  Replication at another institution would depend on the advising structure and possibly the first-year experience options and programs available.  It would also depend on whether or not the institution has a campus culture of collaboration.  Finally, this innovation needs a very supportive IT department.
Additional Resources:

POUNCE FAQs: http://www.gcsu.edu/success/pouncefaq.htm

MAPWorks  (Vendor):http://www.map-works.com/

DegreeWorks (GCSU): http://www.gcsu.edu/registrar/degreeworks.htm

DegreeWorks (Vendor): http://www.sungardhe.com/solutions.aspx?id=1252

CEO-to-CEO Contact:Steve Michael Dorman , Presidentsteve.dorman@gcsu.edu
(478) 445-4444
Date Published: Friday, April 29, 2011