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Gold Carpet Orientation (Albany State University-2023)

Strategy/Project Name: 
Gold Carpet Orientation
Momentum Area: 
Change Management
Strategy/Project Description: 

The Gold Carpet Orientation activity is a modified orientation concept delivered during the weekday.  Through Gold Carpet Orientation, new Freshmen experience orientation in small groups of 20 going through 5-6 stations directly related to onboarding and first year retention, to include:  

  • Academic Mindset: Faculty and Academic Support Services collaborate to provide students with an opportunity to understand the differences in learning, studying, and test-taking at the college-level. 
  • GAView:  A walk-through of the LMS system.
  • RAM Central: Students understand how to access Banner, check remaining requirements, and submit outstanding documents.  Students with significant financial aid issues will be able to receive targeted counseling. 
  • Academic Advising: Students will receive their Fall schedules, get an overview of their degree program and requirements, and make their first advising appointment of the semester. 
  • Career Services: Students will learn how to utilize Focus2Career in making major decisions and the major services of the Career Center. 
  • Student Conduct:  Students are briefed on the Student Code of Conduct, common problem errors within student conduct, and their rights and responsibilities as students in the process.
Evaluation/Assessment plan: 

Evaluation Plan and measures: 

  • Review data from student accounts for payment data (August-September)
  • Survey of freshmen cohort at the conclusion of Ram Success Week (August)


  • % of Gold Carpet students who are fully paid by the Fall payment deadline
  • % of Gold Carpet students who feel “ready to start college”

Baseline measure (for each KPI)*:

  • 49% of Gold Carpet students who are fully paid by the Fall payment deadline
  • 69% of Gold Carpet students who feel “ready to start college”

*Data collection efforts Fall 2021 - Fall 2023 failed to specifically target students who had attended Gold Carpet orientation.  We have used data from the overall freshman cohort(s) to establish a baseline.

Current/most recent data:

  • % of Gold Carpet students who are fully paid by the Fall payment deadline
    •  Not yet collected.
  • % of Gold Carpet students who feel “ready to start college”
    • 79% of respondents from the Fall 2023 freshman cohort agreed or strongly agreed to the statement, “I believe that my New Student Orientation/Ram Success Week experience sufficiently prepared me to begin my first year at Albany State University.”

*Data collection efforts Fall 2021 - Fall 2023 failed to specifically target students who had attended Gold Carpet orientation.  Survey data presented is from a survey of the overall freshman cohort.

Goal or targets (for each KPI):

  • 90% of Gold Carpet students who are fully paid by the Fall payment deadline
  • 80% of Gold Carpet students who feel “ready to start college”

Time period/duration

  • Ongoing
Progress and Adjustments: 

Collaboration with financial aid, academic advising, and admissions have contributed to the success of the initiative for onboarding efforts.  Although we decreased the number of sessions, we increased the number of students served overall (from 315 in Fall 2022 to 528 in Fall 2023) and the percentage of overall attendees who were served in a Gold Carpet session (from 32% in Fall 2022 to 50% in Fall 2023).  Satisfaction remains high, with 97% of Gold Carpet respondents (437/450) indicating that they were satisfied with their orientation experience.

The smaller sessions provide onboarding departments with limited staff ability to examine the records of orientation participants, provide much-needed outreach to fully inform them of missing documents, and have a Fall schedule ready upon arrival.  An earlier schedule means that housing can be reserved earlier and the Fall bill will be more accurate at an earlier date.   In addition, the smaller parent orientation sessions provide a safer space for parents to ask tough questions and receive trusted information to increase participation in payment plans, provide accurate tax information, and assist with providing final high school transcripts, immunization records, and lawful presence documentation.

The continued success of the initiative, which includes an overall increase in the percentage of freshmen fully paid from 49% in Fall 2021 to 88% in Fall 2022 has led us to move up the beginning of our orientation period so that more students are fully paid prior to July 1 rather than August 1.

We will also review data on the first four weeks of the semester to assess whether we need to make changes to our programming.  We have included sessions with faculty (Academic Mindset) and Distance Learning (GAView Overview) to help with academic performance.  The percentage of respondents who felt prepared for the semester increased from 69% in Fall 2022 to 79% in Fall 2023.  We will continue to examine Gold Carpet data versus the overall freshman cohort for differences in early alerts, mid-term grades, and first-semester academic performance.  Our goal is to work diligently throughout the orientation period to address barriers to success in onboarding and the first four weeks of the semester. 

Plan for the Year Ahead: 
  • Revising the Gold Carpet schedule to increase the number of freshmen fully paid by July 1 and the percentage of students served in this forma.
  • Conducting focus groups of first-year freshmen to provide input on the orientation experience.
  • Revising the Gold Carpet curriculum to increase the percentage of freshmen who feel prepared for the semester.
  • Analyzing data of Gold Carpet participants in terms of Early Alert, mid-term grades, registration, and Fall-Spring retention.
Challenges and Support: 


  • Orientation is not required prior to registration or housing.  This provides little incentive for students to attend outside of cultural expectations. 
  • Staffing:  Although the Gold Carpet Orientations have been shown to be beneficial, an increase in the number of sessions are taxing on staff, who must be pulled away from daily operations to serve the incoming class. 
  • The effort to focus on efficiency and onboarding in Gold Carpet sessions leads us to a goal of orientation sessions to be 3 hours or less, with priorities given to Financial Aid and Academic Advising.  The pressure from departments to be included and data on retention on information that would be helpful to students challenges this effort.  Each year we have had to make difficult choices about what information should be included.  For example, housing is not included as part of Gold Carpet, although our data has shown that students do not often understand the process. 
Primary Contact: 
Dr. Kimberly Burgess/Executive Director of Student Success