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Innovation and Incubator Grants from the University System of Georgia

Piloting Your Success

Albany State University


Grant Type: 
Project Lead: 
Wendy Kennedy
Assistant Vice-President for Transitional Studies, Advising, and Academic Success
Other team members: 

Antoinette Gattison
Professional Advisor

Elizabeth Sheffield Hayes
Transitional Studies/Dual Enrollment Coordinator

Amy Sloan
Professional Advisor

Project Description: 

Currently, Albany State University (ASU) faces Momentum Year challenges that directly impact retention, progression, and graduation. According to data provided by the University System of Georgia (USG) Office of Academic Affairs during the 2017 Advising Academy, only 34% of students at Albany State University complete the required core English and math courses in the first year in college. In addition, only 34% of students attempt nine credit hours in a focus area during the first year of matriculation. Both of these data points are below the USG average and directly impact six year graduation rates at Albany State University (ASU).

“Piloting Your Success” is a project designed to address all five components of the Momentum Year agenda.  Piloting Your Success will target the following key areas on the Albany State University campuses:

  1. Helping Students Make a “purposeful choice” when selecting a program of study- ASU will introduce academic focus areas/meta-majors in the areas of social science, business, education, STEM, arts, humanities, and health professions. All first-time freshman (full and part-time), as well as students with less than 45 hours who have not declared a major will be assigned a meta-major until they conclusively decide upon a degree program. ASU will also provide professional development for faculty and staff regarding the benefits of academic focus areas. Colleges and departments will support implementation of the focus areas and will provide information for students and other stakeholders about career paths and degree options.


  1. Assisting students in developing an “academic mindset” that promotes academic success- ASU will accomplish this by redesigning ASU 1101, our first year experience course. Currently ASU 1101: “Pathways to Success” focuses on several of the components of the Momentum Year agenda. Moving forward, the course will focus predominantly on the aspects pertaining to the Momentum Year. ASU 1101 will include modules for guided pathways, guidance on choosing meta-majors, strategies for completing 30 hours in the first year; nine hours in a focus area, and core English and math courses. Additionally, students will learn to demonstrate the behaviors associated with an “academic mindset” in the ASU 1101 course. Cultivating a positive academic mindset will become the mantra for ASU 1101.


  1. Clearly sequenced pathways that include a total of 30 credit hours, nine credit hours in a focus area, and core English and math courses in the first year.  ASU currently uses program maps to advise students during their first two years.  However, the low numbers of students completing core English and Math courses and nine credit hours within a focus area in the first years shows that simple use of these maps is not enough. Therefore, the Office of Academic Affairs will lead the effort of redesigning program maps so that students take the desired English and Math and nine credit hours as early in matriculation as possible.  The Advising Center will work collaboratively with the Colleges to ensure that the curricular modifications have the desired effect on student achievement.  Additionally, all full-time freshmen will receive block schedules based on either their chosen major or meta-major, thereby ensuring that they are registered for courses that meet these guidelines.

ASU will also create infographics and videos to be available to prospective and newly admitted students on the New Student Orientation (NSO) page of our website. As part of the NSO registration process, students will be directed to view information pertaining to meta-majors, guided pathways, the importance of registering for and completing thirty credit hours in the first year, and completion of core English and Math courses. After reviewing this information, students will be directed to a prescheduling questionnaire that will allow them to choose their meta-majors. These questionnaires will also assist professional advisors to create block schedules for students prior to their arrival on campus for NSO.

Once students arrive for NSO, they will be assigned a peer mentor in their chosen meta-major. Peer mentors will be upperclassman who have been selected and trained extensively to serve in this new role. Peer mentors will conduct Q&A sessions regarding meta-majors, and other components of the Momentum Year initiative. These peer mentors will work throughout the year with assigned mentees by meeting with students in residence halls, the Student Center, libraries, Math and Writing Labs, and other locations.

This project is sustainable in that many of the components are one-time expenses (creation of videos and infographics, redesign of ASU 1101, development of training material for faculty, staff and peer mentors). The only recurring cost will be associated with the peer-mentoring program.

This project is also transformative. Building study groups into the students’ schedules through block scheduling and aligning the objectives of the academic mindset to the NSO and ASU 1101 are expected to have a transformative effect on freshmen students.

This project is scalable. All components of “Piloting Your Success” can be shared with upper-division students as well as other institutions in the USG. Marketing materials, online tutorials, faculty/staff training modules, and the ASU 1101 curriculum can be shared and presented as “best practices”.

“Piloting Your Success” will directly improve retention, progression, and ultimately graduation at Albany State University by exposing students to all aspects of the Momentum Year initiative.  Through implementation of “Piloting Your Success,” and other high-impact practices, we expect to meet the needs of our current students as well as improve the potential for success of our future students.    Academic focus areas will allow us to assist students in pursuit of the best majors for their career interests and abilities from the start. In turn, a heightened sense of belonging in the program and in the institution will increase the likelihood that students will complete a credential within six years.   The accomplishments of these students will improve their quality of life by placing them on pathways to even greater success in their careers.  The additional impact is achievement of both our Complete College Georgia (CCG) goals and the institution’s mission.