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Innovation and Incubator Grants from the University System of Georgia

Team Advising at Georgia College

Georgia College and State University


Grant Type: 
Project Lead: 
Mike Augustine
Senior Director, Advising & Retention
Other team members: 

Karen Higgs
Academic Advisor III

Wanda Johnson
Academic Advisor III

Debi Lastinger
Academic Advisor III

Nadirah Mayweather
Academic Advisor III

Dwayne Peterson
Associate Director, Career Development

Nikki Simpson
Academic Advisor III

Project Description: 

Our Current Situation

Georgia College has a fully centralized professional advising model with 19 professional academic advisors. Our professional advisors are organized in clusters - reflecting the idea of Focus Areas - Business, Health Sciences, Humanities and Education, Social Science, and Math and Science. Our academic advisors serve all of our undergrads for all four years. Our advisors also teach first-year seminar and pre-register all entering freshmen for their fall semester classes beginning each February.

We are also fortunate to have a strong relationship with our Career Center. Their office currently has a greatly expanded team of 12 career advisors in order to provide a career advisor to each undergraduate, and has established a milestone program with career activities that students complete each year to better prepare for the world of work, internships, or graduate school.

With advising duties off their plates, our faculty currently have the luxury of truly serving as mentors to their students – shepherding them through upper level courses, presenting opportunities for undergraduate research, and assisting with networking and other preparations for graduate/professional school or career.

Georgia College currently meets several criteria of the momentum year, but to increase our momentum further, we want to bring these three populations together in teams to monitor and support our undergraduate students during their first year and beyond.

Our Proposal

Our idea is to create a Team Advising model composed of an academic advisor, career advisor and faculty mentor (with plans to work with faculty to identify highly qualified student peer advisors to be added soon thereafter). These advising teams will specifically work to help our students explore career pathways (reducing choice paralysis) and make purposeful program choices, develop a productive academic mindset, and complete nine (9) credit hours in an academic focus area during the first year. These teams will also monitor students beyond their momentum year to help them maximize their academic options and progress in a timely manner.

These teams would hold regular meetings within their clusters to review their students’ progress toward certain momentum year milestones and address trends/issues related to their progression. Proposed areas to monitor include:

  • Credit hour load (completing the first 30 hours of their pathway and 9 hours in the academic focus area within the first year).
  • Area A English and Math completion during the first year.
  • Midterm grades and any progress reports/alerts submitted in EAB’s SSC Campus platform.
  • Student progress toward satisfying the USG legislative requirements.
  • Timely progression within the major.
  • Student achievement of their Career Milestones and the transformative experiences outlined in our new GC Journeys program.
  • Prompt completion of graduation applications for seniors.

Based on the needs and trends observed from this monitoring and review, the team would propose outreach and programming to address specific needs.  

Quick examples of outreach following team review:

  • Leading a session for Nursing and Education students on establishing alternative pathways in the event they are not accepted into their desired cohorts (helping these students move toward a growth mindset where they are resilient when facing setbacks).
  • Early intervention with students identified as having significant risk-factors, such as unsatisfactory mid-term grades, difficulty with course availability, etc.
  • Presentations in the First-Year Seminars about how to incorporate focus area content courses into the students’ registration plans when they register in October.
  • Encouraging early connection and participation in co-curricular activities related to their pathway.

Our Needs

To accomplish this goal, we need to:

  • Implement a winter/spring retreat composed of the three initial units of the Advising Team to discuss data/information related to momentum year, establish common language/expectations, and develop a plan.
  • Design focus area academic groupings/purposeful career pathways.
  • Encourage entering Fall 2018 undeclared students to indicate a potential focus area.
  • Revise first-year seminar enrollment to include the undeclared students in the meta-major cluster areas.
  • Develop marketing materials to illustrate and promote meta majors/purposeful career pathways
  • Consider course re-design for FYAS to include team advising participation, achieve the 9 hours of academic focus, and increase experiential learning/career exploration programming.

Our Expectations

Through a team advising model, we hope to see:

  • An increase in retention (specifically Y1:Y2 and Y2:Y3).
  • Improved student decision-making as it relates to major selection by easing choice paralysis
  • Better communication of career/professional pathways across all academic programs.
  • Implementation of GC Journeys to  improve academic mindset and engage students in their academic journey from day one to beyond graduation.
  • An increase in students’ intentional engagement with their academic focus area throughout their first year.  

We expect that the majority of costs involved would primarily be planning and set-up.  So, a Momentum Grant would allow us to produce concrete, actionable steps to implement this new team advising model. 

  • Initial large-scale planning retreat.
  • Cluster-specific team training and planning sessions.
  • Marketing materials to help advertise the team advising concept to our campus and our students, both current and incoming.
  • Marketing and advertising materials for campus programming related to needs identified by the advising teams.

We expect this proposed program to be SUSTAINABLE … Once the teams are up and running, operational costs should then be minimal and expenses could be shared by the Advising Center, the Career Center, and individual academic departments involved.

We expect this proposed program to be TRANSFORMATIVE … Team Advising at GC would involve all of our undergraduate students.

We expect this proposed program is SCALABLE … Other institutions can certainly implement Team Advising as well, depending on the size and composition of their advising center and career center staffs; or the teams can be comprised of other faculty, staff, or student members.