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Georgia Highlands College Campus Plan Update 2018


Georgia Highlands College (GHC) is a limited-mission, four-year state college, which serves as the associate-level access institution for northwest Georgia and offers limited number of bachelor’s degrees targeting the economic needs of the region. The mission is to provide access to excellent educational opportunities for the intellectual, cultural, and physical development of a diverse population. We are proud to offer students an Associate’s degree for less than $8,000.

GHC has over 30 active programs of study, including four degree options: an Associate of Arts degree, an Associate of Science degree, a Bachelor of Science degree, and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. GHC conferred 694 degrees and awards in fiscal year 2017. This represents an increase of 15.6% from 2012 to 2017. There were 6013 students enrolled in Fall 2017 representing an 8.7% increase in enrollment over the last five years. In Fall 2017, 44.6% self-identified as first-generation status, 44.9% were Pell eligible, and 26% were adult learners.

Using 2012 as baseline Complete College Georgia, GHC has increased the one-year retention rates of first-time, full-time students by 1%, but it is important to note that although our retention rate has remained almost flat, the number of students retained has increased by 16.4%. GHC has increased the three-year graduation rates by 2.1%, it is also important to note the number of students graduating in three-years has increased by 16.8%. GHC has a large population of part-time students. When examining the retention rate for all students (graduates removed) there has been an increase in retention rate by 4.1% or an increase of 16.3% of the number of students retained (See appendix). 

This year, GHC has chosen to showcase five of our high impact completion strategies, which include the African American Male Initiative program, QEP- Quest for Success, Learning Support Co-Requisite Remediation, Gateways to Completion work, and Special Topics courses. These initiatives are driven by the need to increase retention, progression, and graduation rates. Our overarching goal is to help students identify and actively progress toward the achievement of the student's educational goals. The strategies that we highlight involve cross-campus collaborations amongst faculty, staff, administrators, and students.




Black or African American students comprise the largest minority population at GHC.  Black or African American males are nationally and locally at substantially more risk of dropping out or stopping out than their female counterparts.  The AAMI program at GHC started in 2008 with a focus on success, retention, and completion.  It is included at GHC in a more general program toward minority male success, Georgia Highlands African American and Minority Male Excellence (GHAME), open to all males with a focus on minority males. The community partner for GHAME is the 100 Black Men of Rome-Northwest Georgia chapter.


The AAMI program at GHC provided students in the program with mentoring from faculty and staff as well as from community volunteers, with academic and career advising, and with troubleshooting assistance for issues as different as financial aid planning to transportation challenges.  To help retention, the program created involvement opportunities for the students such as leadership training, field trips and community service. 


Participation rate (percentage of eligible students participating in AAMI in each fall term), one-year retention rate for first time, full time students, three-year graduation rate for associate degrees, and annual degrees conferred for all African American Males and separately for members of the AAMI program (five-year view of all measures in Data Appendix).

Participation.  The number of AAMI participants in fall 2017 was 88 from a total enrollment of Black or African American males of 345 for a participation rate of 26%.  This figure returns the AAMI to its historical level of participation (25%-29%) after a drop in participation in Fall 2016. 

One-year retention. First time, full time Black or African American males who started in fall 2016 and were members of GHC’s AAMI were retained to fall 2017 at a rate of 90%, while those who did not participate returned the following fall at a rate of 54%.  The overall retention rate for first time, full time Black or African American males was 59% at GHC, the highest one-year retention rate for this population in the State College sector, compared with the State College average of 51%.  The goal of retaining AAMI members at a one-year rate of 90% or higher was met.

Three-year graduation for associate degrees.  First time, full time Black or African American males who started in fall 2014 and were members of GHC’s AAMI graduated with associate degrees by the end of Summer 2017 at a rate of 33.3%, while those who did not participate graduated at a rate of 1.7%.  The overall three-year graduation rate for Black or African American first time, full students was 7.1%, compared with the State College average of 8.0%. The same substantial difference in graduation rates between AAMI and non-AAMI members is seen throughout the five-year view.  

The goal is to exceed the three-year graduation rate for Black or African American males at any college in the State College sector, which for the 2014 cohort would mean exceeding 15.9%.  This goal was met for AAMI participants.

Degrees conferred. The data table and chart in the Data Appendix show the number and percentage of associate degrees conferred to AAMs rising in FY 2018 to 38 degrees and 5.5%, near the all-time high in FY 2016 of 5.8%. The percentage of the degrees awarded to AAMs that were awarded to AAMI members decreased in FY 2018 to 37% even as overall degrees conferred to AAMs rose.  The percentage of degrees conferred remains higher than the participation rate, which has not risen about 29% in the past five years.


Needs and challenges have been primarily a shortage of personnel.  Those faculty and staff who assist with the program are able to do so only in addition to their official jobs, as time permits.  This has led to an inconsistency of services.  One full time position has been added as of May 2017, an assistant in the AAMI initiative to the director, and this is a tremendous move forward.  In addition, the MDRC study will assist GHC to better organize its services across the fives campus sites of the college.


Dr. Jon Hershey, Academic Dean, Division of Humanities,



At Georgia Highlands College (GHC), our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), Quest for Success, places advising at the forefront of student academic and personal success. With purposeful and holistic advising, students will be able to

  • develop a meaningful educational plan,
  • set academic and career goals, and
  • experience increased persistence and success rates.

Quest for Success aims to increase the value of the student experience at GHC by emphasizing advising as a core component of learning. First-time GHC students will participate in a three-step advising process that connects them with professional advisors, faculty members, institutional resources, and other students. During the first two terms of enrollment, new students will work within their advising network to formulate an individualized plan for success, an online, evolving record of the student’s progress and experience at GHC. In crafting a success plan, students will also learn to recognize factors that can impede progress toward their goals.

Goals & Outcomes

Overarching Goal 1: To help students develop self-direction and decision-making skills related to their academic success.

SLO A: Students will determine their reason(s) for attending college.

SLO B: Students will assess their academic strengths and weaknesses.

SLO C: Students will identify and utilize appropriate resources for addressing weaknesses and developing strengths.

Overarching Goal 2: To foster student success through improved academic planning skills.

SLO D: Students will develop a success plan tailored to their academic needs and professional interests.

SLO E: Students will participate in a comprehensive advising process.

Quest for Success allows students to learn about themselves, to plan their academic careers, and to receive guidance as they navigate their college experiences. Our QEP is mission-driven and will enhance students’ experiences and success at GHC.


We are currently in the pilot stage of our QEP, Quest for Success. Our pilot includes general studies students at the Cartersville site. Students were introduced to Quest for Success at summer orientation in small group settings, allowing for student communities to begin forming. Students also had the opportunity to a complete career assessment that will help guide future advising conversations. This fall, the pilot students will complete two mandatory advising activities before they register for their next semester classes. We are positive that our pilot will allow us to problem solve and have lessons learned before our full roll out in the Spring of 2019.


Elizabeth Tanner, QEP Coordinator,



Historically, half the incoming freshmen at GHC require remediation, so steps taken to increase their success can have a dramatic impact on progression and completion.  GHC keeps a running comparison of cohort success among students starting in Fall 2009, before the Learning Support transformations currently in place were begun, and cohorts in Fall 2014 (first term with transformations at scale) and the most recent fall terms to track the impact.


The focus during 2017-18 was phasing out the foundation level courses―ENGL 0989, MATH 0987 and MATH 0989―and removal of the EPI/MPI student placement system. An ad hoc committee with representatives from different divisions worked to coordinate the changes, addressing numerous logistical hurdles. To accommodate these needs, new policies and new computer system programming were developed in the areas of admissions, advising, placement, testing and learning support. English and mathematics faculty put together groups to comprehensively review and further develop the co-requisite course curriculum for ENGL 0999, MATH 0997 and MATH 0999. Data was analyzed to accommodate the student and institutional needs brought about by these changes. All co-requisite courses are now linked to the specific college level courses, ensuring students better alignment of the materials. Thanks to the work done during 2017-18, Georgia Highlands College successfully made the transition by summer 2018.


For the overall program, the goal is student success in the college level courses beyond the gateway classes.

Overall Placement in Learning Support. Worth noting is a reduction in overall placement into Learning Support since fall 2009, before co-requisite remediation and math pathways were at scale.  GHC had both approaches at scale by fall 2014 and the decrease in Learning Support placements has been steady, with fall 2017 showing the biggest reduction.  Fall 2017 was the first year the EPA/MPA indices were used for placement. As shown in the Data Appendix, in fall 2009, 58% of new students (first time, full time freshmen) were placed into some form of Learning Support. In fall 2017, 31% were placed.

Gateway and Follow-On Course Success. In the Data Appendix, two baseline comparisons are made with 2017-18 Learning Support students: 1) a historical comparison of success and progression with students who started in fall 2009 and 2) success and progression comparison with students taking the gateway and follow-on classes who did not start in Learning Support in a given cohort.  Comparisons are available at two levels: highest level (for fall 2009, that is MATH 0099, READ 0099, and ENGL 0099, while for fall 2017, co-requisite placement is used) and lowest level (corresponds to placement in foundations courses).  This report focuses on co-requisite remediation. 

The fall 2017 cohort of Learning Support students continues the patterns of improvement in gateway and follow-on success begun with the fall 2014 cohort, GHC’s first term at scale with changes to remediation.  GHC has noted in prior updates the differences in timely completion of gateway classes before and after the adoption of co-requisite remediation and math pathways.  Remarkably, the fall 2017 cohort of co-requisite students in non-STEM math exceeded a steady upward trend in pass rates when taking MATH 1001 plus co-req in the first term (90% pass rate, exceeding prior first term rates of first 77%, then 82% in prior terms).

Improvements to success rates dropped off co-requisite students (in fall 2014, 2016, and 2017 with 2015 omitted because of similarities to other fall terms) as they progressed through the corresponding follow-on classes (for gateway math, either Statistics or Pre-Calculus; for gateway English, English 1102).

Additionally, students who started in co-requisite remediation continue to lag students who did not require Learning Support in follow-on success. For example, in fall 2009, 35% of students starting at the highest level of Learning Support English (ENGL 0099 or READ 0099 with placement scores equivalent to those used for co-requisite placement in fall 2014), completed the follow-on course (ENGL 1102) in three terms, while 44% of those who did not place in Learning Support did so.  In fall 2016, 42% of co-requisite students in ENGL completed the follow-on course in three terms and 49% of non-LS students completed it in three terms.  The three-term figure for the fall 2017 students is not yet available since data from fall 2018 will be required to complete it.  However, 34% of co-requisite students completed the follow-on course in two terms (ENGL 1101 in fall, ENGL 1102 in spring), while 42% of non-LS students completed it in two terms.

Much more information on co-requisite success in Math and English is provided in the Data Appendix.

Retention. The gap in one-year retention between FTFT students who start in Learning Support and those who do not continued to exist from Fall 2016 to Fall 2017 (64% versus 67% for non-LS students) but was smaller than the prior year.  Fall 2014-15 remains the “gold standard” at GHC with its “+1%” as Learning Support students were retained at a higher rate than non-LS students.  Small gaps or none are the goal.

Completions. Having started at scale with transformed remediation in fall 2014, GHC began at the end of spring 2017 to examine whether improvements in success and progression for Learning Support students are translating into increased completions.  The full historical comparison for completions is shown in the Data Appendix, extending to three-year graduation rates (graduations by the end of summer 2012 for the fall 2009 group, summer 2017 for the fall 2014 group).  

As of the 3-year mark, there was no gap in credential attainment between highest-level LS Math students with equivalent placement scores in fall 2009 and co-requisite Math LS in fall 2014 (19% attainment rate for both groups).  For foundations level math students, however, a gap opened favoring the fall 2014 students (12% attainment rate for fall 2014 students, 8% for fall 2009 students).

For English LS students, credential attainment rate was the same for the fall 2009 students and the fall 2014 students (9% for each).  In general, students taking co-requisite remediation in math and English in fall 2014 have not, so far, attained credentials at a higher rate than those in traditional remediation in fall 2009. Future cohorts, reflecting refinements in co-requisite remediation and placement principles, may show a difference.


For co-requisites, the greatest challenges continue to be format and student engagement. Course linking has helped with aligning course material, but it creates many logistical complications in scheduling, staffing, student placement and room space. Faculty continue to work on how much the co-requisite material should be remedial and how much of it should be reemphasizing the coursework in the connected college course. The co-requisite classes have also struggled with higher student absentee rates—this has been approached on an instructor by instructor basis, focusing on suggested strategies rather than creating a departmental policy.

With an eye to the overall student success goal (success in college-level courses beyond the gateway classes), the changes stated in the Summary of Activities section were incorporated this year.  Increasing that success and the overall level of completions among students who begin with Learning Support requirements will most likely be an ongoing challenge.



Students who fail to complete work in courses that most colleges require in initial semesters also do not graduate.  Time to degree and thereby costs of a degree increase as well.


GHC is officially in Year 2 of the G2C effort. Year 3 of the effort will begin in October of 2018.  The G2C program to date involves the following five courses: BIOL 2121K (Anatomy and Physiology), ENGL 1101 (Composition I), HIST 2111 (American History I), MATH 1001 (Quantitative Skills and Reasoning), and MATH 1111 (College Algebra). This group is considered Cohort 1. Piloting of new approaches and techniques began in fall 2017 after an analysis process for each course was completed during Year 1.

GHC also participated in a pilot of the data analytics included on the G2C platform.  The analytics are focused on early reporting of student performance in a term. An analysis of outcomes from this pilot is not yet available. Another course, ENGL 1102, is being added to the G2C group for a new review and redesign cycle that begins in Year 3 of the current program (starting fall 2018) and will extend into an additional year.


Student success in the target courses. Impacts on student success in the pilot sections have varied and detailed data for two illustrative examples, BIOL 2121K and MATH 1001, are provided in the data appendix. Each example reflects success in different ways.  Summary data for the other courses are also included. Specific targets for student success have not yet been set.

For BIOL 2121K, the G2C sections added to a set of transformations that began before the G2C analyses were complete. Overall DWFI rates have declined steadily in BIOL 2121K across a four-year period, a success for the team working on the course.  However, the G2C sections unexpectedly had higher DFWI rates in fall 2017 and spring 2018 than non-G2C sections.  The specific changes implemented in the G2C sections and plans for adjustment are discussed in the data appendix. 

For MATH 1001, the G2C sections had a positive impact immediately with lower DWFI rates.  The overall DFWI rate in G2C sections in fall 2017 was 18% compared with 28% in non-G2C sections.  Similarly, for spring 2018 the DFWI rate in G2C sections was 23% as opposed to a rate of 41% in non-G2C sections.  Techniques used and plans for expansion of the pilot are discussed in the data appendix.

Student success in the follow-on courses.  About a third of the students who passed MATH 1001 in fall 2017 took Statistics (the most likely follow-on course) in spring 2018 (34% in G2C sections, 36% in other sections).  For MATH 1001 students in G2C sections, the DFWI rate in MATH 2200 in spring 2018 was higher at 32% than the rate for students in other sections of MATH 1001 at 21%.  The numbers of students are small (32 from G2C sections, 97 from other sections), reflecting the pilot status of the G2C changes in 2017-18. 

A small percentage of successful MATH 1001 students in fall 2017 took MATH 1111 (College Algebra) in spring 2018 (7% of students in G2C sections, 6% from other sections).  Success was relatively low for both groups (DFWI rate for students in G2C sections, 50%, students from other sections, 60%).

Analysis and reporting. A portfolio of tables and charts has been developed and is updated at the end of each term. It gives both a term-based and a cross-term view of student success in the target and follow on courses.  Division by demographics is included and the portfolio continues to improve and expand. The faculty coordinators for each course use this information to make adjustments to their work.

Involvement. Four of the six academic divisions (67%) have faculty and administrators involved in the G2C effort. There are at least twenty-five full-time faculty in these divisions directly involved in the effort and since each team involves other faculty in addition to those who are officially involved. Overall, approximately 20% of the full-time faculty are involved in some part of the effort.

Retention and Degree completion. These figures are not yet available for students involved in the pilot during 2017-18.


During this year GHC learned that it is very hard work maintaining an effort that is asking faculty to enhance their instruction. Helping faculty to understand that enhancing instruction does not mean lowering the rigor of their instruction is a difficult message to get across and those faculty who have been involved in G2C continue to be excited about what each course chose to focus on. Their energy has encouraged other faculty to be involved.


Melanie Largin, Academic Dean, Division of Mathematics,



Special Topics course are an important part of the First Year Experience at GHC. These courses allow students to explore focus areas in a creative and enriching environment. By taking a Special Topics course in the first year, students will learn about critical thinking, information literacy, and integrative learning while also learning about a topic of interest or relevance to them. Faculty members will also have a chance to design a course centered around their passions.


In the last 10 years, the First Year Experience at Georgia Highlands College has been a nomadic program, which has had dozens of different leaders, who over time, have reported to four different departments or divisions. Today, the program is a collaborative effort that lives in Academic Affairs and overseen by New Student and Retention Programs. Historically, the most familiar part of the FYE program has been the college success course, FCST 1010: The College Experience. A class that first appeared in the GHC catalog in the 1990s when it was Floyd College, FCST 1010 sought to teach students various study and life skills. The institution had the best intentions offering the course, but overtime as the leadership for FYE changed, so did the curriculum for the college success course. In recent years, the course was only required of students with learning support or remedial course requirements. After hearing many concerns about the quality, currency, and quantity of content available to students, the Provost charged the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and New Student and Retention Programs to lead the efforts to not only improve FCST 1010, but make it available for all students to take for credit as a part of their first year curriculum.

The team led a systematic review of the course objectives, content, assessment of the course. The original goal was to redesign the college success course by elevating the curriculum, strengthening the assessment process, and requiring all students to take the course within the first year at Georgia Highlands. After conducting a thorough program review, which involved reviewing year-to-year course assessments, conducting formal and informal focus groups with students, consulting with faculty members, instructors of the course, and students, discussing the course with various college councils and faculty senate, meeting with other key stakeholders, reviewing scheduling, sections, and seats, involving senior leadership in discussions, reviewing the cost efficiency of the course, and teaching sections of the course to gain first-hand experience, it was the team’s recommendation to stop requiring FCST 1010: The College Experience for learning support students and discontinue offering the course all together. It was recommended that the institution expand their special topics offerings to promote purposeful choice of academic pathway, facilitate timely completion of degree requirements, and to enhance the first year experience of GHC students.


The initiative to ramp up Special Topics courses and make them a part of the First Year Experience is in it’s inaugural year.


Dr. Crystal L. Edenfield, Program Manager for New Student and Retention Programs,



Over the last 6 months GHC has worked hard to begin our EAB Navigate build. After being delayed by Banner 9 upgrades, we have recently gained momentum and are planning our third onsite Navigate build meeting in October. If all goes as planned, GHC will go live with Navigate launching to the QEP student population in November 2018. Over the summer, a pilot group of students were introduced to the QEP: Quest for Success during orientations for Fall 2018 new students. As a part of their pilot, these students took a paper form of a career and non-cognitive assessment. These tools will eventually be in electronic format as a part of Navigate and our efforts to promote a purposeful choice and focus areas.


All pathways have been grouped into focus areas. Each pathway within individual focus areas have aligned curriculum across the first two semesters. GHC is waiting to understand more about how students can choose a focus area on the application for admissions and where this information should be stored in Banner. At this time, all maps have been redesigned to include core English and math, three area F courses, and 30 credits in one year. To promote purposeful choice and help with pathway exploration a Special Topics course (a new model of first year seminar at GHC) was added as the part of the first year of the pathway. This course counts for Area B credit. We are now shifting our attention to formalizing the co-curricular experience and have met with various groups of stakeholders to gather the information needed to develop the content for these milestones and add them to the program maps.


GHC chose to focus on many sub-areas of the element Engagement, including: administering Mindset Survey, engaging faculty and staff in learning about their role in the Momentum Year, changing recruitment messaging to begin with purposeful choice, creating a current student communication plan, continuing with our Gateways to Completion and STEM Center efforts, revamping Special Topics courses, promoting innovative pedagogy through CETL Faculty Learning Communities, establishing a co-curricular experience with a common theme, promoting resiliency with #Adulting workshops, continuously improving the transition experience of Charger Orientation, and more. The following is a brief update on some of these sub-areas:

Mindset Survey. We administered the first round of the Mindset Survey and we found that administering the survey in-class worked best for our institution. In Fall 2018, we took the same approach to target English 1101 faculty to administer the survey in class. We have already improved our participation rate from last year. We are currently interpreting last year’s results and determining what they mean for GHC’s planning and program development. In the future we hope to have these results ready so that departments can use them for planning purposes.

Engaging faculty and staff in the Momentum Year. In March 2018, we called a faculty meeting to discuss the Momentum Year and what it would mean for faculty members. Staff were also invited to small round table discussions to learn more about the initiative. All departments and divisions were encouraged to educate their teams at upcoming staff meetings. GHC hoped to prevent initiative fatigue by clearly communicating the link between the Momentum Year and the QEP: Quest for Success.

Gateways to Completion. We chose to include our Gateways to Completion efforts in our Momentum Year plan. These efforts have been described in a previous section.

STEM Center. Since the launch of the Momentum Year project, the GHC Center for STEM Learning (CSL) has been very active in implementing activities that will better engage and support STEM students thereby improving their persistence and success. A few of the successful activities implemented by the CSL in support of the Momentum Year goals include: ACT/SAT Prep Course for high school students to increase STEM-readiness, MATH Boot Camp (STEMFIT) for incoming freshmen to increase STEM-readiness, transformation of Chemistry 1211K and CHEM 1212K courses, development of a template for a virtual Center for STEM Learning, STEM Community Outreach Activities (See Data Appendix for a more thorough description of these programs).

GHXX 2901: Special Topics in… Redesign. As previously mentioned, our Freshman College Studies course underwent a major program review, which resulted in discontinuing offering the course. As a result, and also as a part of the First Year Experience, the college decided to expand Special Topics offerings. A FYE overlay of critical thinking, information literacy, and integrative learning will be assessed. 

CETL Faculty Learning Communities. Unfortunately, GHC has had a vacant CETL director role since June 2018. A search has begun for the former director’s replacement. Another employee represented GHC at the recent CETL Momentum Year Retreat in September. She will fill in until the role of director has been filled.

Common Theme. After having great success in it’s first year, GHC chose to launch another Common Theme for the Fall 2018. This year’s theme is Wellness. A Common Theme is a series of purposeful academic, cultural, and social programming with a focus on a certain concept. The goals are to promote in and out of the classroom learning, place an emphasis on building community, giving students from different backgrounds a shared experience, deepening student learning and engagement, and encouraging cross-campus and cross-department/division collaboration. The theme of Wellness is focusing on promoting physical, emotional, social, community, financial, academic, and career well-being, giving students the tools to be a complete charger! We will be providing students, faculty, and staff activities such as yoga, group hikes, health screenings, gratitude journals, comedians, costume contests, field trips to the Atlanta History Museum and the Funk Museum, workshops on credit basics and how to file taxes, a medical history lecture, and preparing for job interviews.

Charger Orientation. We always strive for continuous improvement with our Charger Orientation. In the summer of 2018 we added a Financing College workshop to educate students and parents about financial aid and financial literacy. We are currently planning for how the QEP: Quest for Success should be integrated into orientations for new Spring students. QEP: Quest for Success goes full-scale January 2019. 


GHC continues to seek out ways to ensure faculty and staff that this is not another initiative and that everything we are doing has a common theme of student success. We try to align our Momentum Year efforts with our QEP: Quest for Success as best as we can. We have a new VPAA, Dr. Dana Nichols; she brings energy and awareness of innovative pedagogy and high impact practices. We are sure she will be an advocate for in and out of the classroom learning. We are excited about the upcoming Advising Academy and the chance to continue to review our onboarding and transition experiences. The Momentum Year Plan has forced us to have conversations that we may have avoided in the past. We continue to collaborate and hope our efforts improve retention and graduation rates, as well as deepen the student experience, both in and out of the classroom.