GOAL 1: Become a national model for undergraduate education by demonstrating that students from all backgrounds can achieve academic and career success at high rates.
Georgia State graduates 54 percent of its bachelor’s degree-seeking students today, surpassing its strategic benchmark goal of 52 percent by 2016. This graduation rate is up from 48 percent in 2010, and following the consolidation with Perimeter College in 2016, the university awards 2,825 more degrees annually than it did at the start of the Strategic Plan in 2011. Just as significantly, Georgia State has eliminated the achievement gaps based on race, ethnicity, first-generation status and income level while maintaining its nationally recognized student diversity and seeing an 80 percent increase in the number of Pell-eligible students it enrolls.
Georgia State Undergraduate Graduation Rates by Year
By percentage. Hover mouse over chart to view numbers. The numbers reflect the 6-year graduation rate for first-time freshmen seeking a bachelor’s degree.
INITIATIVE 1: Increase the level of scholarship support for undergraduate students.
Since 2010, institutional need-based grants have increased from 178 recipients and $142,044 in awards to 2,129 recipients and $2.8 million in awards in 2015. Since 2010, merit-based grants have increased from 1,098 recipients and $2.3 million in awards to 4,007 recipients and $9.3 million in awards in 2015.
A Scholarship Resource Center was established in 2011 to offer guidance and support to students seeking financial assistance. Since opening, it has had 3,070 visits and 6,000 applications for scholarships. A database now includes more than 400 institutional scholarships and fellowships.
The Summer Success Academy uses predictive analytics to identify admitted students for the fall freshman class who may struggle academically in their first year in college. It requires that these students attend a seven-week summer session before fall classes. The Academy has increased the retention rates for the students enrolled in the program from 50 to 94 percent since the program’s start in 2012. The program has expanded to the university’s Perimeter College.
Freshman Learning Communities (FLCs), which create learning communities of students with similar interests, have grown significantly in size and impact since 2010, with freshmen who enroll in the communities up from less than 50 percent to 70 percent during the fall of 2017. FLCs are organized around meta-majors such as STEM, Health, Business and Education. Throughout their first year, students are exposed to different majors in their areas of interest, allowing them to make informed academic decisions and reducing changes between majors. A newly implemented career advising platform helps students understand the connections among their choices of academic majors and potential careers by providing students with national employment, hiring and salary data.
Many other instructional innovations and programs have been added or expanded to increase student success, including redesigned and flipped courses in numerous departments, optimized course scheduling and the expansion of Supplemental Instruction into more than 200 course sections every semester. In 2016, the Center for Instructional Effectiveness, Center for Instructional Innovation, and the Center for Teaching and Learning at Perimeter College were merged into the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL).
CETL offers a wealth of resources to advance a university community where the best practices of engaged teaching and learning are supported through a range of programs for all instructors, from first-time graduate assistants to longtime faculty. CETL continues to offer pedagogical development resources for graduate students, training for International Teaching Assistants and expanded its support for first-time professors, as well as training in serving student veterans. The center also provides learning environments and teaching equipment, including recording studios, innovative and active learning classrooms, a proctored lab for online exams, and more.
In 2017, the Office of Instructional Innovation and Technology also introduced ExLab, a “makerspace” for students, faculty and staff as a collaborative environment centered around experiential learning, creativity and innovation. The makerspace includes a fully-stocked workshop, space for textile production, 3D printing resources, digital design resources to experiment with virtual and augmented reality, and more.
A few examples of Georgia State programs aimed at meeting financial gaps and needs:
Panther Retention Grants provide micro grants of less than $1,500 to students each semester to help cover modest financial shortfalls affecting students’ ability to pay tuition and fees. These were designed to prevent students from stopping and dropping out. More than 9,000 grants have been issued since the program’s inception in fall 2011, with more than 80 percent of the students being retained or having graduated in the two semesters after receiving the grant.
Keep HOPE Alive uses a $500 award for two semesters after a student loses his or her HOPE scholarship. The program requires students to sign a contract, agreeing to meet with their advisers, attend academic skills workshops and participate in financial literacy training to improve their chances of re-qualifying for the HOPE scholarship. Since its inception, the program has helped to double the university’s graduation rates for students who have lost the HOPE scholarship, raising the rates from 20 to 40 percent.
The SunTrust Student Financial Management Center opened in 2016 and is organized around analytics-based proactive outreach – one of the first of its kind in the nation. The center provides a wide range of outreach using the university’s data-driven Financial Alert System, based on the predictive analytics expertise that the university uses for academic intervention before trouble arises. The center uses 10 years of student financial data and more than 140,000 Georgia State student records to provide predictive analytics, identifying when students make decisions that put them at risk of increased financial hardship and attrition. During the center’s first academic year, the center intervened with 72,000 students and saw more than 56,000 students who visited on their own initiative. The center boosted the completion rate of freshmen of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – the key document to almost all financial aid in higher education – to 94 percent, compared to 74 percent of freshmen who did not use the services of the center.
Summer melt, the failure of students to complete enrollment in college after confirming intent to enroll the fall after high school graduation, particularly affects students from low-income backgrounds. After being accepted to college, students must often complete a series of often challenging tasks, such as getting financial aid forms submitted before enrollment, becoming obstacles.
To tackle the university’s 19 percent summer melt rate and to improve support for the transition of students to college, Georgia State pioneered the use of the AdmitHub mobile messaging platform, which uses conversational artificial intelligence (AI) technology to personalize admissions support.
During the first semester of implementation, the system replied to more than 200,000 student questions with an average response time of 7 seconds. Students supported by the assistant showed greater success in meeting pre-enrollment requirements than those who did not use the assistant, nicknamed “Pounce.”
Georgia State’s use of the virtual assistant, also referred to as a “chatbot,” resulted in nearly a 4 percent increase in enrollment and a 21.4 percent decrease in summer melt.
The University Assistantship Program has been expanded to support Honors College students. Incoming freshmen are matched with a department or office of interest to provide an experiential learning opportunity as they work on special projects or research, typically earning a stipend of up to $2,500 for their work. There are now a record 318 assistantships ranging from research lab work to participating in special ensemble performances.
Georgia State’s top academic scholarship supporting honors students, the Presidential Scholarship has been expanded from seven scholarships in 2012 to 10 in 2015. This scholarship provides eight semesters of tuition support, a stipend for textbooks and living expenses, a paid university assistantship and a stipend for study abroad. These nationally competitive scholars enjoy peer mentoring, small group discussions with visiting professors, and numerous social, service and leadership opportunities.
- U.S. News & World Report ranked Georgia State 4th in the country among the most innovative universities (behind only Arizona State University, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), a list of schools nominated by college and university leaders. The list includes institutions that are making the most innovative improvements in curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology or facilities.
- U.S. News & World Report ranked Georgia State 14th in the nation for its commitment to undergraduate teaching, among institutions such as Yale, Stanford, Duke and Michigan. The publication identified schools “where faculty has an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching.”
- President Barack Obama praised Georgia State’s use of financial innovations as a national model during his address on White House College Opportunity Day in December 2014.
- In July 2017, Bill Gates made a half-day visit to campus specifically to learn more about Georgia State’s innovative use of data and technology to promote student success.
- In March 2017, Georgia State’s student-success programs secured the second largest gift in university history, a $14.6 million grant from the State Farm Foundation to fund innovative, data-based programs in support of college completion at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College campus in Decatur.
- Georgia State enrolls and graduates more Hispanic, Asian and Pell students with bachelor’s degrees than any other university in Georgia.
- During the fall of 2017, Georgia State won the Technology Association of Georgia’s Excalibur Award in the public/non-profit category for its nationally recognized success in implementing a virtual assistant to handle admissions questions and increase the number of students who successfully enroll at the university.
- Georgia State received the 2015 Institutional Transformation Award from the American Council on Education, citing Georgia State’s exceptional progress in the area of student success and its elimination of all achievement gaps.
- Georgia State was invited in August 2015 to give expert testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions during its hearings to explore innovative approaches to increasing student success nationally.
- The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics honored Georgia State’s Latino Leadership Initiative in 2015 for its work in boosting college enrollment among Latino students and promoting leadership skills among Latino Georgia State students.
At-Risk Undergraduate Student Populations at Georgia State by Year
By percentage. Hover mouse over chart to view numbers.
- Pell Eligible Students
- Underrepresented Minority Students
INITIATIVE 2: Establish a Student Success Center.
A University Advisement Center was established in 2013 to improve communication and support of undergraduate students. More than 40 new professional advisers were hired. This resulted in the student/adviser ratio being lowered from more than 700 to one to the national average of 300 to one. In addition, Georgia State implemented a cutting-edge, analytics-based advising tracking system, GPS Advising, in 2012.
Based on more than 2.5 million historical Georgia State grades, the system tracks 800 different attributes related to academic progress for each undergraduate every day. During the 2016-17 academic year, academic advisers had 51,000 one-on-one meetings with students that were prompted by alerts from GPS Advising. In part because of such interventions, the number of unneeded courses — courses students enroll in and pay for that do not advance students towards completion of their degrees — has declined by an average of 8 credit hours per graduating senior since the system’s implementation, saving students an estimated $15 million in tuition and fees annually.
Six-Year Graduation Rates Among First Time First-Year Freshmen Who Started at Georgia State
By percentage. Hover mouse over chart to view numbers.
- 2016, with National Clearinghouse Data Added
INITIATIVE 3: Implement an Undergraduate Signature Experience.
The Undergraduate Signature Experience Program, created in 2012, includes experiential learning options for students. It includes internships, research experiences, community service learning projects, field studies, study abroad trips, clinical rotations, student teaching, honors thesis preparation and other experiential opportunities for students outside the classroom.
There are six broad categories of signature experiences available to students: Arts, City, Global, Professional, Research and Service. There are more than 400 signature experience options. All departments with undergraduate programs offer at least one signature experience option and 49 percent of all departments require a signature experience in their undergraduate major and/or minor curricula. Approximately 70 percent of Georgia State graduates take at least one Signature Experience course during their college career.
During academic year 2016-17, 6,507 students participated in more than 9,000 Signature Experience course sections – and more than 4,000 students were involved in civic engagement.
Evaluation data suggest that students realize advances in critical thinking, communication, professional networking and confirmation of academic goals during signature experiences.
A cooperative education (co-op) program has been added as an option in select departments. Coop students work full-time for six months as paid co-op employees in academic field-relevant businesses that are considered a critical component of their academic program. Students can complete two separate co-op placements of work directly related to their majors and do not take classes during their co-op placements. Between co-op placements, students return to complete their academic studies as full-time students.
Georgia State Degree Conferrals By Academic Year (Fall-Summer)
Hover mouse over chart to view numbers.
NOTE: Data for AY 2015-16 and thereafter include associate’s degree conferrals due to the consolidation of Georgia State with Perimeter College.
INITIATIVE 4: Establish an Honors College.
After a long history of various honors programs at Georgia State, the Honors College was created in 2011 to advocate for the educational experiences and resources needed for high-ability students and moved to new and expanded facilities in 2013. The Honors College fosters a vibrant community to advance undergraduate scholarship, enhance research, foster service and compete for prestigious awards and fellowships. Since its creation, a record 1,650 students have been selected to participate.
The College’s 2017 entering freshman class had a high school grade point average of 3.85 and SAT scores that are more than 100 points higher (1410 in 2017) than they were in 2012.
The Honors College also has produced 44 national award recipients: 13 Gilman Scholars, 4 Fulbright U.S. Student Program Scholars, 3 UK Fulbright Summer Institute participants, 3 Goldwater Scholarship recipients, 2 Marshall Scholarship finalists, a Schwarzman Scholarship finalist, and recipients of several other prestigious national awards and fellowships.
In keeping with the university maxim that students from all backgrounds can succeed, the Honors College student population is about 40 percent Pell Grant eligible (spring 2018), has numerous first-generation college students and reflects the diversity of the university.