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Georgia Gwinnett College Campus Plan Update 2018

Institutional Mission and Student Body Profile

Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) is one of four access institutions within the University System of Georgia that primarily offer baccalaureate degrees. The GGC mission states that the College “provides access to targeted baccalaureate and associate level degrees that meet the economic development needs of the growing and diverse population of the northeast Atlanta metropolitan region.” Founded in 2005, Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) has always operated in the context of a clear strategic plan derived from its mission. GGC’s growth and its success in serving a challenging population are evidence of the College’s commitment to providing not only access to post-secondary educational opportunity but also support structures that engender success.

GGC’s model of education reflects our values of access, attention, and affordability. We use a coordinated care model of learning and progression, integrating efforts across campus to ensure that we best serve our students. Further, we provide intersectional programming for student success, understanding that layering high impact practices both addresses the widest audience and has the greatest effect on students reaching their academic and personal goals. Four broad synthesized goals of the Division of Academic Affairs serve to organize and structure GGC’s efforts: Communities of Learners, Mentoring Reimagined, Engagement Made Meaningful, and Authentic Acculturation.

Basic demographic characteristics of the GGC student population show a preponderance of those who are traditionally underserved and for whom substantial support structures are essential. These characteristics of GGC’s student population shape the College’s specific strategies for promoting completion. GGC continues to enroll significant numbers of students who have historically not had access to higher education: those who have relatively low levels of academic preparation; are first-generation college students; are low income; and are members of racial and/or ethnic minorities. The mean high school GPA of entering freshmen continues to be between 2.69 and 2.82 and over one-third require remediation in at least one subject. Approximately 40% of each entering cohort is a first-generation student and over 50% of each entering cohort is eligible for a Pell grant. GGC remains a majority-minority institution and the proportion of Hispanic students continues to increase.

GGC’s key priorities in support of Georgia’s college completion goals are increasing enrollment among typically underserved populations, aiding students with a successful transition to higher education, and providing tools that enable early successes for our students. GGC has focused first on increasing access and success for the traditionally underserved. An effective transition to higher education is facilitated by the College’s focus on student engagement and student success in the first year, most notably through a network of support structures, careful course design and pedagogy, and advising. Early successes are fostered by the provision of tools such as academic advising for students enrolled in Learning Support pre-college courses, concurrent remediation, the multi-faceted tutoring program available to all students through the Academic Enhancement Center, and programs tailored to the needs of specific sub-populations of first-year students. The College’s overall commitment to active learning and authentic experiences for all students nurtures ongoing success, deep learning, and preparation for post-graduate careers and study. Finally, GGC’s commitment to maintaining an affordable environment makes continuation and completion more possible for our student population.

Institutional Completion Goals and Strategies

High Impact Strategy: Coordinate Programs and Services to Ensure Access to Higher Education

Goals Addressed: Goal 1: Increase the number of undergraduate degrees awarded by USG institutions; Goal 9: Improve access for underserved and/or priority communities

Primary Points of Contact:

Dr. Michael Poll, VP, Enrollment Management; Dr. Justin Jernigan, Dean, School of Transitional Studies.

Statement of Priority and Impact

As the student body profile above indicates, GGC has sought, recruited, and enrolled a highly diverse population that draws strongly from traditionally underrepresented groups. These results arise from the efforts of both Enrollment Management, through their recruitment, admissions, orientation and financial aid efforts, and the School of Transitional Studies, which is responsible for programs and services to support students’ academic and personal transitions while enrolled.

Summary of Activities

GGC has focused on creating deep and meaningful relationships with the Gwinnett County Public Schools, recognizing our mission to serve our immediate geographic region and the size and scope of the population in Gwinnett County.  Similar sustained attention is dedicated to other schools from which GGC attracts students. These relationships are developed and sustained through ongoing events and visits. GGC’s Admissions Counselors have built working relationships with guidance counselors at 202 individual schools in Georgia and are committed to visiting each school 2 -3 times a year.

The College invests in student-focused activities accessible to all prospective students, including:

GGC’s Preview Day event welcomed approximately 1668 guests during the 2017-18 academic year. There were a total of five Preview Days, including sessions specifically for adult learners as well as for traditional students.  Preview Days are scheduled for September and October 2018.

Access-focused admissions criteria and recruiting are central to the College’s mission. GGC complies with the access mission institution admission standards established under University System of Georgia Board of Regents policies, and is committed to ensuring that our admissions procedures implement these standards.

English Language Institute (ELI)

Twenty-five students attended GGC’s English Language Institute (ELI) in Fall 2017, of whom five satisfied their English language requirement. In Spring 2018, a total of 31 students attended ELI, of whom seven completed the program.

During 2017-18, a total of six ELI graduates enrolled at GGC as degree-seeking students and four have enrolled for Fall 2018. Of the 2017-18 ELI attendees, 66% indicated an intention to attend GGC as degree-seeking students.

GGC also provides a collection of programs designed to meet students where they are, introduce them (and their families) to college culture, and connect them with resources that will promote their successful progression to graduation. Some of these programs and activities include:

  • Grizzlies Helping Grizzlies/Beyond Financial Aid support offerings
  • Grizzly Orientation sessions for students and families
  • March Through the Arch (first year student convocation)
  • Grizzly Days (welcome week activities)

Beyond Financial Aid Support Offerings

GGC has committed to the Beyond Financial Aid framework of the Lumina Foundation. Following a comprehensive review of current campus knowledge and programs, GGC has identified several ongoing efforts that comport with the framework.  Further, the College has included consideration of what was learned from the BFA assessment in its current strategic planning processes. The existing support structures on campus are listed below, sorted into the type of support offered.

Prediction: Efforts to identify in advance students who may be at risk

  • Intrusive advising for academic risk, which creates a relationship
  • Financial aid monitoring
  • Development, in partnership with the Carl Vinson Institute on Government, of predictive models for student success

Prevention: Efforts to provide ongoing support to all students that can avert a crisis of need

  • Dress for Success clothing bank
  • Subsidized child care
  • Money Smart week
  • Subsidized auto repair
  • “Last dollar” funds

Mitigation/Recovery: Efforts that respond when a student is facing a crisis

  • Emergency grants
  • Emergency housing
  • Grizzlies Helping Grizzlies, a campus-funded emergency funds program.

To further develop these offerings, GGC is establishing a more structured and data-informed program to anticipate and coordinate responses to student needs.

Grizzly Orientation

Grizzly Orientation (GO) offers students a robust one-day orientation to GGC and campus culture. Also included are advising and registration sessions, to assist students in selecting appropriate first semester schedules aligned with Momentum Year goals (e.g. English and Math in the first 30 hours). GO also includes more acculturation programming, such as the "Day in the Life of a GGC Student" skit and debrief, which illustrates and then opens conversation about different issues and challenges that first-year students commonly face. More pragmatic needs of students are served through educational technology sessions and tours of campus to review class locations. These efforts aim to integrate students into the GGC community and to equip them with practical knowledge to successfully start the school year.

Grizzly Orientation programming also includes parent/family orientation meetings to acculturate families to college life and GGC in particular. For the past two academic years, GO has offered bilingual parent orientation sessions in Spanish, and this type of offering is likely to continue.

First Generation Student Programming

Over 40% of GGC students self-identify as first generation (FG). GGC is committed to serving the needs of this special population, creating more equitable access to college knowledge, and promoting progression and student success. To these ends, GGC staff and faculty have created several initiatives to develop self-efficacy and establish a strong sense of Grizzly community with our first generation students:

  • GGC Lexicon One way we can provide access for incoming students into the college community is by demystifying and clarifying the many terms and acronyms used in academia. The GGC Lexicon is an online, searchable database of commonly used terminology, available at In addition, a shorter, targeted list of must-have terms for the first semester of college has been designed into brochure form, the College Terms and Acronyms User Guide. These brochures will be publicly available in high traffic offices and at student events.
  • Grizzly First (G1) Scholars The G1 Scholars initiative has grown since last year. In Fall 2018, three learning community sections, pairing learning support math or English with a GGC 1000 first-year seminar, will be offered. Students in G1 Scholars also take part in a semester-long community engagement service project, which is part of the integrative programming of each learning community.
  • BEAM (Bears Engaging and Mentoring) Peer Mentoring In conjunction with the G1 Scholars initiative, this academic year we are introducing our first cohort of BEAM peer mentors. Each Fall 2018 G1 learning community will be assigned several BEAM mentors to provide peer-to-peer support, as new students transition to college life. Peer mentors undergo a rigorous selection process and receive training prior to their LC assignment.
  • Faculty/Staff FG Community Campaign The faculty/staff first-gen campaign is ongoing. Our first-generation faculty and staff are encouraged to take and display one of our FG door cards. They state "I'm a first generation college grad" and have a place for faculty and staff to list their school name and year of graduation. GGC's student-focused team is committed to supporting our FG cohort and especially wants to emphasize the reality of their ability to graduate with a college degree.

Beyond efforts on campus, GGC’s engagement with the surrounding community has led to the creation of community supports for students. Most notable is the establishment of the first Gwinnett bus line service to campus in summer of 2018. Additional bus routes are planned to roll out over the next year.

Measures of Progress and Success

The primary measure of GGC’s success in providing an accessible learning environment is the student demographic profile presented in the introduction of this document. The combined efforts of Enrollment Management and the School of Transitional Studies have enabled GGC to continue to attract and enroll a student population that reflects the region it serves and that focuses on serving the entire spectrum of levels of prior academic and/or social preparation for college.

Lessons Learned and Next Steps

It is clear from both the data specific to each individual effort and the overall enrollment data that GGC is succeeding in providing to students from the metropolitan Atlanta region genuine, realistic opportunities for success in higher education. Further, GGC’s focus on access has supported recruiting efforts more broadly, bringing the college a meaningful number of international and out-of-state students who expand and enrich the campus diversity. GGC is committed to continuing to enroll a diverse population.

High Impact Strategy: Provide an attentive learning environment to support retention and progression

Goals Addressed: Goal 3: Reduce excess credits, Goal 4: Provide proactive advising, Goal 6: Shorten time to degree completion, Goal 7: Transform remediation, Goal 8: Restructure instructional delivery

Point of Contact:

Dr. T J Arant, Sr. Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and Provost

Statement of Priority and Impact

GGC’s committed faculty and staff provide students with the support and tools they need to be successful in college and in life, from the first day of class until graduation. During the past academic year, GGC’s faculty and staff have worked to bring to implementation four broad-based goal: Communities of Learners, Mentoring Reimagined, Engagement Made Meaningful, and Authentic Acculturation. These reflect the commitment of GGC’s educational environment to high-quality high-impact practices, student engagement and support, and real-world experiences. These goals are the articulation and operationalization of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs and represent that Division’s commitment to GGC’s overall strategic plan. Each goal encompasses several of the individual efforts already in place at GGC to support college completion and aligns those efforts, while helping to identify and to organize the College for efficient and effective implementation.  While programs currently in place continue – and continue to benefit students – efforts over the next year will focus on strengthening and coordinating existing work and implementing additional structures within the framework of these four strategic goals.

Given GGC’s many current programs and strategies to support students in an attentive teaching environment, the Communities of Learners goal is most fully developed and implemented. For the other goals, foundational planning is complete, and the 2018-19 academic year is more focused on their initial implementation. The discussion below presents each goal and reflects both past and planned activity as appropriate.

Communities of Learners:

Recognizing that the deepest knowledge is built in active, interactive contexts, GGC is expanding its commitment to coordinated learning communities. Activities in this goal will build the structures needed to develop intentional communities of learners both during and beyond the first year and for both students and faculty.

Summary of Activities

Learning Communities

At GGC, learning communities currently consist of two to four purposefully linked classes that share the same group of students. These linked class offerings may include combinations with learning support co-requisite English and mathematics. GGC 1000 First-Year Seminar also is a course frequently included in LCs. LCs incorporate one or more integrated assignments, which involve students working across the classes to complete them. Instructors intentionally coordinate their courses and assignment schedules to provide academic support for students.

LCs are organized by theme, cohort, or goal. At this time, most contain 1000-level courses, so they are generally—although not exclusively—targeted for first-year (30 credits or fewer) students. Going forward, GGC is exploring living-learning communities, as well as LCs linking 2nd year and upper-level courses, particularly within a major or focus area.

Incoming students primarily receive LC information during their Grizzly Orientation session. In the morning welcome session, they and their families receive flyers advertising student success programs such as the first-year seminar and learning communities. During registration later in the day, they are shown a list of offerings, and presentation leaders discuss the concept and benefits of participating in a LC. Students can sign up for a LC that day, or later on, through contacting their school’s advisor or the Mentoring and Advising Center.  Faculty mentors also can discuss LC opportunities with their current students who may be interested. Students can learn more about upcoming LCs and submit questions through both email and the LC website.

Summary of Activities 

During Fall 2017, 4 learning communities were offered. During Spring 2018, 9 were offered. Twelve (12) first-year learning communities are running in Fall 2018. Significant scale-up is anticipated SP19 and AY19-20 as learning communities become a major element of GGC’s academic culture.

GGC 1000 First-Year Seminar

GGC 1000 First-Year Seminar (FYS) is a course designed to promote first-year students' success by providing the knowledge and practical skills necessary to reach their educational and personal objectives. GGC 1000 supports first-year students in developing academic goals, fostering a greater sense of personal responsibility, engaging in intentional learning, and participating in campus culture. For students with under 30 credits, GGC 1000 may count for 1 credit in the “Additional Requirements” section of degree program plans.

In Fall 2017, eight sections of GGC 1000 were offered, four of which were part of learning communities. 78 students completed the course. Of those 78 students, 66 (85%) earned a grade of A, B or C, 11 (14%) received a grade of D or F, and 1 (1%) withdrew. In Spring 2018, nine sections of GGC 1000 were offered, four of which were part of learning communities. 100 students completed the course. Of those 100 students, 63 (63%) earned a grade of A, B or C, 30 (30%) received a grade of D or F, and 7 (7%) withdrew.

As part of the course structure, four signature assignments were integrated, to evaluate student progress with the learning outcomes: the Campus Resources Scavenger Hunt Quiz, the DegreeWorks Evaluation Activity, the Career Research Assignment, and the End of Semester Reflection. After reviewing samples of the four assignments (generally four student samples per assignment per class section), results suggest the success of the course in helping students meet or excel in all learning outcomes. GGC 1000 provides another valuable strategy towards GGC's coordinated care model of student success and commitment to access, equity, and attentiveness. Eighteen (18) sections of GGC 1000 are offered Fall 2018, with twelve (12) of those embedded in learning communities. Further scale-up is intended as part of the strategic plan and GGC’s focus on communities of learners. To accommodate GGC 1000’s flexible role in learning communities and to cross-check qualitative student work samples, the assessment structure will move to two signature assignments plus an end of semester attitudinal survey, issued through Class Climate. This survey first was piloted SP18.

Comprehensive and Pervasive Tutoring Support 

Recognizing that, for some students, the structure and format of their class section may not be sufficient for mastery of the course material, GGC has invested deeply in tutorial services. Extracurricular tutoring provides a safety net for students who are academically underprepared, struggle with self-organization and management, or find their instructor’s pedagogical approach incompatible with their own learning style. Tutoring support also benefits students who actively wish to develop their skills in a particular area through supplemental learning experiences.  

GGC’s investment in tutoring services has been a feature of the college since its opening. As of the most recent academic year, tutoring services are offered in a central campus location, in classrooms, online, and at a variety of other campus venues, including the campus Residence Halls and Disability Services. The on-campus tutoring center is open 64 hours per week and offers support in high-demand subject areas in either a face-to-face or an online platform. The tutoring center, known as the Academic Enhancement Center (AEC), employs two coordinators (one for Writing, one for Math/Science), 1 Lead Tutor, 17 professional tutors, 15 student/peer tutors, and 7 student assistants. In addition, 50 faculty volunteered a total of 2,172 hours in the past academic year. In the 2017-18 academic year, the AEC tutored 2,714 students for a total of 10,381 tutoring sessions.

GGC offers tutoring outside of the AEC through its TIC-TAC-TOE program. The TIC program embeds Tutors In the Classroom for selected courses (over 37 sections during the 2017-18 academic year). The TAC program provides Tutors Around Campus, professional tutors who provide drop-in tutoring in a variety of well-populated locations on campus. During AY17-18, 16 TAC tutors facilitated 609 tutoring sessions. TOE offers Tutoring Online Everywhere through a partnership with Smarthinking (a Pearson service), which provides 24/7 access to tutoring. In the 2017-18 academic year, 850 unique students utilized 2,498 tutoring sessions and/or submitted essays for review. Fifty-two percent of online tutoring users utilized Smarthinking for more than session.

AEC staff offer student success workshops in an online platform, Student Lingo. The workshop selections cover topics as diverse as exam preparation, time management techniques, stress relief strategies, and how to use learning style preferences to improve study methods. For AY 17-18, 125 students virtually attended 297 Student Lingo online workshops. One hundred forty-nine students attended in-house student success workshops in AY 17-18. The AEC also began to offer standardized test preparation workshops for pre-education and pre-nursing majors. Ninety students attended these workshops. Additionally, the AEC offers in-class writing workshops for a variety of writing concerns. In the 2017-18 academic year, writing tutors facilitated 30 in-class workshops involving a total of 664 students. The AEC regularly participates in campus-wide events for prospective and current students and maintains a social media presence. These efforts invite students to engage where they are and reinforce that GGC is committed to supporting the whole student, academically and otherwise.  

Measures of Success 

Increased Grade Point Averages (GPA) is a valuable measure of success for the implementation of expansive and available tutorial support services at GGC. It is not possible to provide a baseline figure for this strategy as GGC has always invested heavily in making tutoring available and accessible to all students. Since students often access multiple forms of available tutoring support, it is not feasible to conduct a fine-grained comparison across the various options. For this year’s report, GGC has focused on the impact of the AEC on student performance in two critical gateway courses: MATH 1111 and ENGL 1101, comparing course performance across two variables: whether the student was enrolled in a co-requisite learning support course and whether the student made use of the AEC.  Table 2 shows the final course GPAs for students who engaged AEC tutorial support versus those who did not. The findings indicate mixed results. All ENGL1101 students who used the AEC had higher course GPAs than those who did not utilize the AEC. On the other hand, the MATH1111 students with no Learning Support component who used the AEC fared on par with non-AEC users. The MATH1111 co-requisite AEC users showed a decline in course GPA, which is an area for improvement.

 Table 1: Course Success in Gateway Math and English by Learning Support Status and AEC Use 

Course and LS Status

Fall 2017

Fall 2017

Spring 2018

Spring 2018


Use AEC 

Not Use AEC 

Use AEC 

Not Use AEC 

MATH 1111 No Learning Support 





MATH 1111 Co-Requisite LS 





ENGL 1101 No Learning Support 





ENGL 1101  Co-Requisite LS 





Measures of Progress

The primary measures of progress for this constellation of activities will be the number of integrated learning communities offered each semester, the number and distribution of students enrolled, and the number of faculty engaged in teaching in learning communities or in professional development as preparation for teaching learning communities. GGC’s target is to have 2500 students enrolled in learning communities by Spring 2023 and to have 50% of faculty engaged with learning communities by the same time.

Progress will also be measured by tracking for commensurate growth in the other ancillary programs that support the creation of a campus culture as a broad community of learners.

Mentoring Reimagined

Understanding that GGC’s student population is likely to need just-in-time, targeted support and mentoring, we are reexamining our already effective model for student advising and mentoring to make it more flexible. In this effort, we are investing in analytic models to support prediction at the individual student level, professional development to prepare faculty and staff to be effective mentors, and formative assessment of mentoring efficacy in the pursuit of continuous improvement.

Summary of Activities

The core activities of the past year were in service of laying the foundation for the organization, assessment, and refining that will begin during the 2018/19 academic year. This foundation calls for engaging with pre-college students from a mentoring perspective, working with faculty to build a deeper understanding of available data on college success from both the national research perspective and the local, historical GGC perspective, conducting qualitative and quantitative assessment of the current structure at GGC to identify essential needs, strengths, and challenges, and piloting large-scale predictive analytics along with targeted interventions to assess the approach most likely to support GGC students. Each of these is briefly discussed below.

As a component of a Momentum Year grant, GGC is developing a set of mini-workshops for high school students on topics that include, but are not limited to: growth mindset, choosing a major, being engaged with campus opportunities and resources. These will be deployed to four partner high schools in Gwinnett County during the 2018/19 academic year. The project team has been established and the final schedule is in development at this time.

Another element of the same grant is focused on increasing faculty awareness and understanding of data and research findings on college success. A core group of faculty volunteers, the Mentoring and Advising Center, Interim Associate Provost for Strategic Initiatives, and the Office of Plans, Policies, and Analysis are currently reviewing the available data to select the elements that are most informative to faculty as mentors and to develop materials for broader distribution to faculty. This team is also reviewing the broad research literature to identify sound practices, particularly for initial mentoring conversations and initial academic advising conversations with the goal of developing additional support material for GGC’s mentors.

As a companion element to the grant-supported work, the Office of the Provost is launching a qualitative and quantitative evaluation of the efficacy of our current mentoring structures. This effort is focused both on discovering how successful mentoring has been and on compiling key challenges and needs from both faculty and students. The results of this work, in combination with the externally focused research, will lead to new professional development opportunities and support structures.

Finally, GGC has engaged with two predictive analytic initiatives; one a system-level pilot project, the other an institutionally-funded initiative with the Carl Vinson Institute on Government. Both will use large datasets to model student likelihood of persistence using environmental factors imputed from census block data along with academic and demographic data. As these models are developed, GGC will identify ethical, respectful ways to use the resulting information.

Measures of Progress

The primary measure of progress on this multi-faceted goal is the number of specific tasks completed.

Engagement Made Meaningful

GGC is committed to graduating students who are prepared for the world of work and/or further advanced education. To meet this commitment, we are organizing and structuring existing programs toward two sub-goals: ensuring that students are prepared to enter careers; and enabling students to bring their curricular learning to applied settings in the community. In particular, the programs and structures under development should take in to account developmental needs, as student progress through a curriculum, and the importance of equity in access to and participation in this high-impact practices.

Summary of Activities

The core activities of the past year for this initiative have been primarily in the realm of planning. Two clear initiatives have moved into the implementation phase for the upcoming academic year.

Career Readiness Program

The Center for Career Development and Advising and the Center for Teaching Excellence are collaborating on building an on-line, asynchronous career readiness program that will be available to all students. This series of modules will support students in developing a strong suite of career resources and workforce skills through content delivery, self-reflection, and assessment. This non-credit program will be pilot tested during Spring 2019 and all current GGC students will be enrolled beginning in Fall 2019.

Expanded Community Engagement

While many GGC students have opportunities to participate in service learning and/or volunteer efforts in the broader community, there is room for improvement in our structures and programs. Accordingly, one aspect in GGC’s planning is a renewed commitment to building reciprocally beneficial relationships with the Gwinnett county community. One example is the expansion of the Aurora Performing Arts Complex in downtown Lawrenceville to include spaces for GGC faculty and students and for educational experiences. This co-location of community arts and college programming is expected to enrich and deepen cultural and economic ties. Another example is the City of Lawrenceville’s investment in the College Corridor, an improved pedestrian and bicycle friendly roadway connecting the campus to downtown.

Measures of Progress

The primary measure of progress on this multi-faceted goal is the number of specific tasks completed.

 Authentic Acculturation

The final broad goal is based in the recognition that a student’s campus experience is shaped by the College’s culture and commits GGC to embedding the core elements of our aspirational culture in campus activities and programs, articulating those elements appropriately, and supporting students in “owning” their development, education, and experience. Within this goal are efforts to more clearly articulate our aspirational culture, to define experiences and programs that highlight that culture, and to develop a means by which students can reflect on their own experience in this context.

Summary of Activities

Articulate and Instantiate Aspirational Culture

The first of two organized activities within this broad area focuses on articulating the aspirational culture for GGC or, in other words, to “define the Grizzly graduate” in terms of work place skills, self-awareness, and confidence, primarily through our institutional student learning outcomes. This will then be instantiated within an ePortfolio to support student reflection and self-awareness. 

The ePortfolio will be implemented and piloted during Spring 2019 with senior capstone classes and then expanded to the full campus in Fall 2019.

Create Experiences to Highlight GGC Culture

The second primary activity in this broad area is titled “A Year in the Life of a Grizzly.” This involves coordinating a series of events that bracket the beginning and ending of each semester and connect to the aspirational culture of the college. For the upcoming year, these anchor events have been identified:

  • For faculty and staff
  • Opening faculty convocation
  • New student welcoming (March through the Arch)
  • Promotion and awards recognition event
  • Commencement
  • For students
  • New student welcoming (March through the Arch)
  • Athletic events
  • Student awards recognition event
  • Commencement

Additional activities focused around a campus-wide common reader are planned for next academic year.

Measures of Progress

The primary measure of progress on this multi-faceted goal is the number of specific tasks completed.

High Impact Strategy: Provide an Affordable Educational Opportunity

Goals Addressed: Goal 1: Increase the number of undergraduate degrees awarded by USG institutions; Goal 9: Improve access for underserved and/or priority communities

Primary Points of Contact:

Ms. Laura Maxwell, VP for Business and Finance; Dr. T J Arant, Sr. Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and Provost

GGC offers a high-quality, accessible, and attentive education for less money than most other schools in the USG. GGC controls costs through a variety of measures aimed at not sacrificing the quality of education but assessing which services are essential to the College’s core mission and which to outsource for savings. Thus, support services such as grounds and facilities maintenance and food services are outsourced for a lower cost. In addition, GGC maintains a relatively flat organizational structure and a commitment to lean staffing to maximize fiscal flexibility and investment in the mission, vision, and core competencies.

Summary of Activities

Affordability is not just about costs and prices. It is about helping students understand their needs, access available financial resources, and improve their financial literacy. To do this, GGC has promoted events and programming such as:

  • Money Smart week activities, during which the College offers workshops and information on financial literacy, budgeting, and financial planning.
  • FAFSA Fridays, during which the College offers targeted financial aid assistance in completing the FAFSA form. Sessions were run in October – December for those filing FAFSAs in the fall and March – April for those filing in the spring.
  • Parent Orientation sessions focused on Financial Aid and Student Accounts information designed to engage parents and to enhance their ability to support their students in sound financial decision making.
  • Scholarships and Grants, including “last dollar” funding to allow students with low balances to remain enrolled and emergency grants to support students who face unexpected expenses during a semester.
  • Scholarship Information Sessions focused on searching and applying for scholarships in October – January
  • Housing Help Days during the admissions timeline that focus on supporting admitted students and their families evaluate housing options and make financially sound choice.

Measures of Progress and Success

GGC’s commitment to keeping the out-of-pocket price for students as low as possible is both critical to maintaining affordability and central to sustaining accessibility for traditionally underserved populations. Further, GGC’s state fund cost, $4763 per FTE, is substantially lower than the USG average of $6787 per FTE. GGC continues to be ranked second in the southern regions for lowest graduate debt among both public and private institutions (US News and World Report, 2017 rankings)

Lessons Learned and Next Steps

GGC has established a functional business model that maintains affordability for all students. The College remains committed to this model and to ongoing attention to fiscal responsibility and excellence in core competencies.

Momentum Year Update: 90-day Goals

Table 2 below provides a summary report on the status of GGC’s Momentum Year work.

Table 2: Status of GGC Actions for Momentum Year



Momentum Year Statement



Each student is guided into an academic focus area or program that best aligns with that student’s aspirations, aptitudes, and potential for success.

STS began distributing "Steps to College Success" handouts at every first-year Grizzly Orientation that include the GGC Academic Focus Areas: Health Professions, STEM (Science, Technology, Mathematics, IT), Education, Business, Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences.    

Advisor/Mentor preparation: ongoing Student Engagement activities - focus areas are now included in VZ to encourage students to select a focus areas when signing up for Grizzly Orientation. Information included in GO packet on things to consider when selecting a focus area.

Focus II mini assessment being reviewed for purchase to assist mentors and advisors in having discussions about focus areas/majors. 

Development of resource guide: ongoing

Advising Fairs: High school partners have been identified and have provided initial feedback for planning.              


Degree programs are aligned into academic focus areas that have common first year courses.


Most majors and concentrations have detailed maps available and those not yet completed are in progress. Program maps will include term-by-term guidance, information on pre-requisites, and guidance for mentors and advisors.


Each focus area and program of study has an established default curricular (program) map that provides term-by-term course requirements and structured choice for appropriate electives.


Students are provided with a default program map that is sequenced with critical courses and other milestones clearly indicated and advised and counseled to build a personal course schedule that includes core English and mathematics by the end of their first academic year.


Students are provided with a default program map that is sequenced with critical courses and other milestones clearly indicated and advised and counseled to build a personal course schedule that includes three courses related to a student’s academic focus area in the first year


Students are provided with a default program map that is sequenced with critical courses and other milestones clearly indicated and advised and counseled to build a personal course schedule that incorporates as full a schedule as possible - ideally 30 credit hours - in the first year.


Students are provided with personalized curricular maps and have ongoing advisement in their academic program. Students are directed to co-curricular activities and practices that are supportive of their major and overall integration into the college environment.


All incoming freshmen will be invited to participate in the USG Getting to Know Our Students Mindset Survey before the first three weeks of the semester

After obtaining the student email list and a list of faculty teaching first year students, GGC’s Office of Plans, Policies, and Analysis will determine strategies for contacting students. The first request for participation will be sent out during week three of classes (August 27-31).


All faculty and staff, especially those who work with students in their first year, are oriented toward student engagement and success, and are provided with the training and tools they need to fulfill their roles in this regard.

Faculty training on Momentum Year data literacy: Information for training has been identified and is being compiled. Communication plan for training has been developed and training ambassadors have been identified.


For part 3 of the template, select specific enrichment activities that your institution is investigating, piloting, implementing or building to a greater scale that promotes student engagement, connectivity and satisfaction with their program of study and/or college itself, or their productive academic mindset.  These may be high impact practices (HIPs), reorganized courses through G2C, academic mindset interventions or other practices.

Advisor/Mentor preparation: ongoing 

Development of resource guide: Information included in GO packet on developing a productive mindset;

Development of engagement activities: ongoing 

Advising Fairs: High school partners have been identified and have provided initial feedback for planning. 

First-Year Seminar: In Fall 2018, GGC is offering 18 sections of its extended orientation model first-year seminar, GGC 1000, 12 of which are part of learning communities. This constitutes a doubling of FYS offerings from SP18.


Data on the core metrics GGC has elected to track are encouraging for this reporting year as shown in Table 3 below. While overall figures fell slightly short of targets for many metrics, GGC continues to document strong performance by students entering the College with academic challenges. Further, early data suggest that, since hitting a low of 61.5% for the Fall 2010 cohort, first-year retention continues to steadily increase, indicating that GGC’s integrated efforts to ensure access, attentiveness, and affordability are having an impact on student success and persistence. Since early success, which is known to predict progress and persistence, is a primary focus of much of GGC’s innovative educational model, GGC will continue to monitor this closely.

Early data on graduation numbers are also encouraging, as can be seen in Table 4. Data for the Fall 2012 cohort shows a slight increase in 4-year graduation rates, which is consistent with the turnaround in retention rates seen for the same cohort. Further, the number of students graduating in each cohort has continued to climb, reflecting GGC’s rapid growth rate. In addition, GGC’s role as a starting point for many students is reflected in the system-wide graduation rates, which continue to show that substantial numbers of students who transfer out of GGC continue to successful completion. As with retention rates, graduation rates for the Fall 2012 and subsequent cohorts are showing a slight, but meaningful increase, reflecting GGC’s efforts to support students and its stabilizing population. As reflected in Figures 1 and 2, the College's graduation rates, although lower, for all students parallel in system-wide graduation rates over that same time.

The common theme across the specific elements of GGC’s attentive learning model and the four primary goals that are shaping our strategic focus is that they are all high engagement, individual focused efforts. The level of impact of these efforts is perhaps not surprising given the high-need population that GGC serves. GGC’s commitment to meeting students where they are and providing the kind of high impact scaffolds and supports that are known to engender success is continuing to bear fruit as can be seen in the performance metrics in Tables 3 and 4.

Efforts that are focused on wide-scale communication and technology have shown less impact and less penetration into the mindset and practice of the institution. Two primary factors have contributed to the challenges in implementing strategies based on technology tools and communication. The first is the necessity of prioritizing initiatives in the context of budgetary limitations presented by the current economic climate. Faced with choices between funding direct student intervention efforts and funding other initiatives, GGC has consistently chosen to prioritize the former, to good effect.

The second factor impacting implementation of communication and technology initiatives arises from the limitations presented by GGC’s hosted software environment for Banner. The hosted environment introduces complexities in implementing some initiatives that rely on communication across software systems and platforms, including those owned by Ellucian that are designed to integrate with Banner. Implementing these solutions requires extensive human resource investment in consultation with ITS and Ellucian to create locally-developed solutions and increases the likelihood of errors, so additional time working toward implementation is necessary.

GGC’s combination of inclusive access, an attentive teaching model, and consciously- controlled affordability means a high-quality educational experience, without crippling debt, for a greater number of students. GGC provides a comprehensive, integrated environment in which the success of students is the core focus. In so doing, GGC not only opens the door to higher education to an expanded population, but also supports those students to graduation, thus contributing to the needs of Georgia and to the goals of Complete College Georgia.