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University of Georgia Campus Plan Update 2021


The University of Georgia is the birthplace of public higher education in the U.S. It is the state’s oldest, most comprehensive, and most diversified institution of higher education—an institution that values its role as a land- and sea-grant institution and honors its commitments and responsibilities to the entire state of Georgia. With more than 10,000 faculty and staff members and over 39,000 students (undergraduate, graduate, and professional, enrolled in 18 schools or colleges). It offers 24 Baccalaureate degrees in more than 140 areas and, pre-COVID, hosted more than 250 study abroad, exchange programs, and field school opportunities. UGA is committed to providing a superior teaching and learning environment, to serving a diverse student body, and to promoting student success.

There is no single undergraduate student profile at the University of Georgia. Rather the institution welcomes diverse students with widely varying backgrounds, interests, experiences, and challenges. The typical UGA undergraduate is of traditional age (≤ 24 years), enters as a first-year student, lives on campus for the first year, and is seeking a first undergraduate degree. In addition, UGA is admitting more transfer students each semester. In Fall 2020, the total undergraduate population numbered 29,765 students, the vast majority of whom hailed from the state of Georgia (88% vs. 11% out-of-state and 1% international). The majority of undergraduate students (94%) were enrolled full time; 58% were female; 30% (self-reported) were of racial/ethnic minority status; 24% were Pell-eligible; 6% were first-generation; and 2% were over the age of 24.

UGA is committed to recruiting, retaining, and supporting the academic success of underrepresented, first-generation, rural, and other traditionally underserved students and to increasing the affordability of a UGA degree. UGA launched the Georgia Commitment Scholarship campaign to put a UGA education within the financial reach of more residents of the state. The GCS program is a need-based scholarship program that is open to first-year undergraduate students. The scholarship which is renewable for up to four years (8 semesters) comes with a variety of programs and resources to support student success. The total number of GCS recipients has steadily increased from 94 in AY 2017-18 to 569 in 2020-21. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the Office of Student Financial Aid disbursed a total of $382,918,038 of federal, state, institutional, and other/external programs to 29,243 unique undergraduate students (19% of whom received a Federal Pell Grant with over 200 students self-identifying as independent, i.e., former foster youth, wards of the court, orphans, homeless or with legal guardians). To increase affordability, UGA once again eliminated all lab and course material fees and continues to consider new ways to remove financial barriers for our students.

UGA is among institutions with the highest retention and graduation rates nationwide (see Appendix A, Tables 1-3); they surpass those of our comparator peers and exceed or are on par with our aspirational peers. The University has an exceptional first-year retention rate of 94.97% for the 2020 cohort which is up from the 94.4% for the 2019 cohort but still below the 95.5% rate for the 2018 cohort—a dip that we attribute to the continuing disruptions caused by COVID-19. The six-year completion rate for the 2015 entering cohort increased significantly to 87.84% (from 87.2% for the 2014 cohort), and the four-year completion rate for the 2017 entering cohort increased to 72.1% (up from 71.4% last year). The average time to degree has steadily declined from 4.07 years (students who graduated in 2012) to 3.93 (students who graduated in 2021, see Appendix A, Table 3).

These retention and completion rates are stellar, but UGA seeks to do better. We recently pulled data on students who did not complete their degree and discovered that most were not students in academic distress. Rather, there were two distinct sets of high-achieving students who were transferring out of UGA: one set transferred to Georgia Tech after their first year, and the other transferred after two years to schools in the system that offered a nursing degree (which UGA does not offer). This led us to look more closely at students who did not complete their degree and did not fall into these two groups. There we found students who were having academic difficulties, going on probation and dismissal, and not completing. To serve these students, we created the “Connect and Complete Persistence Framework,” a holistic, research-based, and proactive set of interventions to impact academic performance, mindset, and well-being and to equip students with the resources that we anticipate will enable them to complete their degree. The hallmarks of the framework are the Early Academic Alert which is designed to catch students before their situation becomes grave, the creation of a Degree Completion Team for each of these students, and an intense online module that students will engage while they are on academic dismissal so that they might return to campus better equipped to succeed. Connect and Complete will officially launch in Fall 2022.

Among public universities, the University of Georgia is one of the nation’s top three producers of Rhodes Scholars (25 over the past two decades). UGA is also home to hundreds of major scholarship winners, including: 2 Churchill Scholars, 2 Beinecke Scholars, 8 Gates Cambridge Scholars, 7 Marshall Scholars, 60 Goldwater Scholars, 21 Truman Scholars, 20 Udall Scholars, 56 Boren Scholars, 6 Schwarzman Scholars, 3 Mitchell Scholars and 143 Fulbright Student Scholars.

UGA’s challenging learning environment and innovative programs continue to garner national attention and recognition. UGA boasts one of the top 10 Honors programs in the U.S., an achievement which culminated this year in elevating the Honors Program into the Jere W. Morehead Honors College. In addition, U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” edition for this year ranked UGA 16th among public universities; Open Doors ranked it #6 in Study Abroad; Niche ranked it as the #11 Top Public Universities in America. The INSIGHT Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award recognizes colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion. UGA has earned this national honor every year since 2014.

UGA’s comprehensive degree programs, in concert with its innovative learning environment, demonstrate that UGA—thanks to its faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends—is creating leaders who are shaping the future of our state, nation, and world.


UGA recruits and enrolls undergraduate students with outstanding academic qualifications and high expectations for academic performance and post-graduate success. To meet the needs and expectations of these students, UGA has maintained a longstanding focus on excellence in undergraduate education. Evidence of this focus includes a long history of initiatives designed to enhance undergraduate education and increase our already high retention and completion rates. Examples include (1) the small class-size initiative (2015-2016); (2) enhanced student support via peer tutoring, peer learning assistants, and Academic Coaching (2017); (3) the experiential learning requirement for all undergraduates (2015); (4) the Double Dawgs pathways program (2016-2017); (5) the creation of the Teaching Enhancement and Innovation Fund (2020); and (6) our new QEP on Active Learning (2021). We report briefly here on these six initiatives.

1. Small Class Initiative:

Despite the size of its student population, UGA maintains small class sizes, having on average 33 students per class with a 17:1 student-to-instructor ratio. The Small Class Size Initiative (SCI) is keeping that ratio low. The SCI reduced class sizes by hiring additional faculty and creating more than 300 new course sections in high-demand classes, bottleneck courses, and courses that historically have had high failure rates. This allowed us to increase overall enrollment in several of those courses while simultaneously reaping the benefits of small class size in terms of student success. For example, the Department of Mathematics received SCI funds to add sections of pre-Calculus and Calculus classes with enrollments capped at 19. The results, prior to the pandemic, were excellent: UGA students in MATH 1113 were failing or withdrawing from these courses at rates below the national average; equity gaps for race and gender were narrowing (for example, the DFW rates for Black/Latinx/Multiracial students were on par with those for White and Asian students); and more students were progressing into the next course in the sequence on schedule and completing it successfully. The SCI is also producing positive results for PHYS 1211 and ENGR 1120 in both of which we were able to increase the class GPA while also increasing their overall enrollment (see Appendix B, Table 1). In addition, with the smaller class sizes the percentage of incompletes steadily declined in PHYS1211 and the withdrawal rate declined in ENGR1120. At present, the Office of Instruction is analyzing data to determine if the initiative can be expanded into other courses with equal or better results.

2. Enhanced student support:

UGA has increased support for students, particularly for those in large enrollment classes. Highlighted here are results from CHEM 1211 and 1212, both of which have dramatically decreased their DFW rates through the implementation of active learning strategies and the use of PLAdawgs (UGA’s peer learning assistants sponsored through a STEM grant from the USG and supplemented by support from UGA’s Teaching Enhancement and Innovation Fund). Between Fall 2016 and Spring 2020, the DFW rate in CHEM 1211 decreased from 34.5% to 13.1%; even more remarkable was the decrease in DFW rates for CHEM 1212 over the same period: from 44.8% to 7.9% (See Appendix B, Table 2). The AY 2020-21 saw an increase in the percentage of DFW rates in both CHEM 1211 and 1212 in Spring 2021; we attribute this to disruptions caused by the pandemic and expect to see the percentages begin to fall again.

Table 1: Impact of PLAs. Data from Division of Academic Enhancement


% of D or F Grades

% of Withdrawals

With PLAs



Without PLAs




The PLAdawgs program has put peer learning assistants in several other STEM classes (e.g., Biochemistry, Biology, Organic Chemistry) with positive results. Based on Propensity Score Matching, students in sections of STEM courses with PLAs were determined to have outperformed (between 0.02 and 0.13 better, on a 4.0 scale) their counterparts in sections taught by the same instructor but without the peer learning assistants.

Our assessment data also shows that PLAs have a positive effect on students’ confidence in their major, with 20% of students in the Fall and 13% of students in the Spring reporting that PLAs had an impact. Based on these results, we hope to be able to continue the STEM program and expand this program to put PLAs in non-STEM courses as well.

Although we are still seeing equity gaps in several STEM courses, the early gains in Math, Chemistry, Physics, and Engineering offer models going forward, as does our targeted peer tutoring in STEM courses. During the Fall 2020 semester, over 140 peer tutors conducted 191% more tutoring appointments than during the Fall 2019 semester. Tutoring was offered in over 200 courses, an increase of 143% from Fall 2019. Assessment data for that program shows that peer tutoring is having a positive impact; for example, in Fall 2019, students who attended 10+ sessions experienced an increase from their self-reported midterm grades to their final course grade of, on average, 1.8 for MATH and 2.0 for CHEM on a 4.0 scale. Peer tutoring and peer learning assistants reside within the PLaTO (Peer Learning and Teaching Others) program within the Division of Academic Enhancement. A primary goal of PLaTO is to engage students in developing competencies such as collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving, self-regulation, professionalism, leadership, digital technology, and intercultural fluencies that shape them while they are students and beyond; a key part of the program is the training peer educators receive in research-based techniques to facilitate learning, motivation, and a growth mindset. DAE’s data analyst conducts rigorous assessment of the program to help identify impacts and areas for improvement.

3. Experiential Learning Requirement:

A distinctive feature of every UGA undergraduate degree is the Experiential Learning (EL) Requirement. UGA students meet the requirement by engaging in creative endeavors, study abroad and field schools, internships, leadership opportunities, faculty-mentored research, service-learning courses, and co-curricular opportunities. In addition, several of the Georgia Commitment Scholarships include funding for one of more EL opportunities for low-income scholars, and the EL office is actively raising funds to ensure that no student has to compromise on EL for lack of financial resources.

Between Summer 2016 and Summer 2020, UGA students have completed 90,787 approved EL activities, despite tremendous disruptions in Summer 2020 and 2021 caused by COVID-19. The Office of Experiential Learning tracks data across campus and created a process to identify students whose on-time graduation was in jeopardy because of the cancellation of so many opportunities due to COVID-19; they are continuing to track students as we anticipate that capacity will continue to be an issue for at least another year.

This year UGA launched the Student Industry Fellows Program (SIFP) with support from Delta Airlines. The SIFP cultivates innovation competencies among UGA students via two new specialized courses: IDEA 4000 and IDEA 4020. The SIFP brings students from a range of disciplines together to solve emergent and pressing challenges through cross-disciplinary courses and experiences within a framework of partnerships with industry. Through this program, UGA plays a vital role in building the talent of today and empowering them to solve tomorrow’s challenges. UGA’s EL graduation requirement recognizes that today’s students need flexibility around what, how, where, and when learning happens.

4. Double Dawgs Pathways:

UGA students matriculate with, on average, 10 AP/IB and/or dual enrollment courses. To leverage those credits and provide a mechanism for students to optimize their time at UGA, we launched the Double Dawgs pathways in fall 2017. These pathways enable students to earn both a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in five years or less. To date, UGA has approved over 200 Double Dawgs pathways created by academic departments or degree programs.

We are beginning to see significant growth in the number of students completing a Double Dawgs pathway (see Table 2). We attribute the dramatic rise in the four-year completion rate (see Appendix A, Table 1) to the impact of the Double Dawgs pathways and will continue to track these students to measure and assess the impact of this rigorous program on completion rates. The Office of the Registrar tracks all data related to the Double Dawgs pathways.

Table 2: Students completing a Double Dawg pathway.


# of graduates

Su 2018, F 2018, Sp 2019


Su 2019, F 2019, Sp 2020


Su 2020, F 2020, Sp 2021, Su 2021


Date from Office of the Registrar

5. Teaching Enhancement and Innovation Fund:

In late Spring 2020, UGA launched the Teaching Continuity Fund to address challenges and disruptions to student learning and success that were prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Between Spring 2020 and Summer 2021, UGA allocated over $890,000 to support instruction across campus when so many courses had to pivot to remote instruction and virtually all study away opportunities were cancelled. Support ranged from equipping classrooms with Zoom kits to purchasing hot spots for low-income students without access to wifi at home. Large investments were also made to hire and train peer tutors in over 200 courses and over 100 PLAs in all sections of Chemistry 1210, 1211, and 1212. This funding also enabled many instructors to assemble at-home lab kits; others hired undergraduate teaching aides and graduate student workers to facilitate with labs and assist student learning in hybrid teaching environments.

Thanks, in part, to this investment, the overall undergraduate GPA for the AY 2020-21 was not significantly different from previous years (see Table 3), and in fact it was up slightly in Fall 2020 over Fall 2018 and 2019; nor did course withdrawals rise significantly despite the challenges that students faced in transitioning from a primarily face-to-face in-person instructional modality to a heavily remote modality.

Table 3: Summary of Undergraduate GPA


Overall GPA

F 2018


F 2019


F 2020


Sp 2019


Sp 2020


Sp 2021


Su 2019


Su 2020


Su 2021


Data from OIR.

Circumstances helped faculty discover new ways of delivering course content and improving student learning. UGA has decided to capture that creativity and innovation; this fall the Provost and the Vice President for Instruction created the Task Force on the Future of Teaching and Learning and charged it to make recommendations on leveraging the creativity and problem-solving that the pandemic unleashed in our faculty, staff, and students. Similarly, the Teaching Continuity Fund was renamed the Teaching Enhancement and Innovation Fund and was continued for AY 2021-22 to take advantage of new methods embraced by faculty. This funding resides within the Office of Instruction which has asked departments that received funding this fall to report on results.

6. Active Learning QEP:

Both the 2017 President’s Task Force on Student Learning and Success and the University’s 2025 Strategic Plan called for the wider adoption of strategies to promote active learning in more courses and the renovation of traditional classrooms to accommodate active learning and other evidence-based pedagogies. To support this recommendation UGA has spent over $2.5 million since 2018 to transform traditional classrooms into active learning spaces. In addition, the Active Learning Summer Institute has trained 55 faculty in active learning strategies, prompting course redesigns in 55 courses/sections across the curriculum affecting 27,552 students (see Appendix B, Table 3). Active learning is the focus of our next Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) which goes into effect next year and which will infuse active learning in the teaching and learning culture at UGA. The overarching goal of this QEP is to transform the undergraduate classroom experience by cultivating a learning environment that supports and amplifies the impacts of active learning along three strands: programming for instructors to embrace and develop active learning within their curriculum and to redesign specific courses to incorporate it; courses and other resources for students to introduce them to the value of active learning and help them become successful in active learning environments; and renovation of classrooms to be more flexible and supportive of active learning practices. UGA’s new QEP on active learning will be the next significant and visible step in UGA’s trajectory of excellence in undergraduate education.

In addition to these initiatives, UGA’s teaching and learning environment features a large number of the high-impact practices identified by AAC&U; those with the greatest reach across campus are the focus of UGA’s HIPs work for the USG. They are a first-year experience course (our First Year Odyssey Seminar that is required of all first-year students), writing intensive courses (with W suffix), service learning courses (with S suffix), and undergraduate research courses (with R suffix).

Clearly UGA has built a vibrant, world-class learning environment which, thanks in part to innovations such as the Experiential Learning requirement, Double Dawg pathways, and other special initiatives, is attracting the very best students from across the state and nation and around the world. It is equally clear that they are flourishing here.


It is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the mission of UGA. It is equally clear that UGA was not unique. Students across the country—and indeed the world—struggled with the pivot to remote learning; struggled with making connections to peers, to faculty, to their coursework, and to the wider community; struggled to accept that they were missing out on all those experiences that make each of them a “Bulldog;” and struggled with a mountain of anxiety. For some, the struggle was all the more painful because they lost loved ones to the disease.

Despite many efforts, students who entered UGA in Fall 2020 did miss out on many traditional first-year experiences while also having to navigate the unfamiliar waters of remote learning. Those who matriculated in Fall 2021 had spent 18 months in those waters, but they were anxious about adjusting to the rigors of UGA’s learning environment. Both cohorts needed some help in adjusting back to being in-person learners after such a long hiatus. UGA created “(re)Gaining Momentum” to address those needs.

The (re)Gaining Momentum Plan, as designed in February 2021, comprised three steps:
(1) gathering information, (2) alerting faculty (not implemented), and (3) supporting students.

The information gathering began this summer. We added a question to the Orientation Intake survey asking students to report what percentage of the previous 18 months they spent in remote instruction (see Table 4). All students are asked to take this survey before they arrive for orientation, and their answers are available to their Academic Advisors who could then directly refer students to the resources to help them transition to UGA. This question provided valuable data on what level of transitional support these incoming students were likely to need.

Table 4: Survey response on instructional format in high school

% of time as remote learner


%  of responses



















Data from Office of University Advising Services.

We also collected information as part of “Thrive at UGA,” a four-week academic residential program for a diverse community of first-year undergraduates that introduces them to the rigors and unique learning opportunities at UGA and helps them form meaningful academic and social networks. The feedback from faculty and staff included:

  • Faculty noted that students showed up ready to engage in class and were generally happy to be back in person in the classroom although there were some distractions caused by COVID cases among the students
  • Program staff noted in some students stunted social/communication development due to a year or longer of being in school remotely
  • Program staff also noted overall mental health challenges exacerbated by the pandemic and anxiety about COVID
  • Students noted having trouble with time management and getting to in-person classes and some concerns about low motivation

These concerns have influenced the goals of some student success workshops delivered by DAE this fall and planned for this spring. In addition, UGA’s Center for Teaching and Learning continued to support trauma-informed teaching efforts among faculty.

The Office of Student Transitions and the Division of Academic Enhancement (DAE) created special programming for second-year students (see Appendix C): Sophomore September from Student Affairs and SophoMORE Stride from DAE. Sophomore September focused on building community and a sense of belong, fostering wellbeing, and highlighting resources inside Student Affairs. SophoMORE Stride engaged second-year students during the first six weeks of the semester to adjust to campus, build connections with campus partners, and hone their academic success skills after a non-traditional first year. This collaborative work between student success researchers and practitioners in the Office of Instruction and Division of Student Affairs supported students in the pivot away from remote learning back to in-person learning, efforts that were complemented by mentoring opportunities and peer education programming.


For Momentum Year work in 2021, UGA selected the following two priorities: Meta-majors and Mindset. The ambitious goals set in February have been delayed because of COVID-related issues and staff turnover. The charts below are updated.


Our seven meta-majors are UGA’s version of focus areas. Each of our 140+ majors have been placed in one of the meta-majors which are based primarily on overlapping required courses and are color coded to reflect Holland Interest categories. We have been using the meta-majors in the Exploratory Center (EC, our advising unit that works with students who arrive at UGA uncertain of their major and continuing students who are thinking of changing their major). This year’s priority is to promote the use of the meta-majors beyond the EC by increasing awareness across campus and by providing more training among advisors on how to use the meta-majors. To date, we are working with a few Academic Advisors to create a lunch-and-learn or discussion program to introduce the framework and overarching concept behind the meta-majors as well as a curriculum to train advisors in how best to use the meta-majors with students who express concern about their major. We expect to present this information at the Spring 2022 Advisors Workshop. The next step will be to collaborate with the Office of Undergraduate Admissions to feature them on their webpage about UGA majors.


Focus Areas



Person responsible

(* = new staff member)

New Completion date

Increase use of meta-majors beyond the Exploratory Center

Provide training for academic advisors about meta-majors and how they can help students who change majors optimize the credit hours already earned

Julia Butler-Mayes
Director of University Advising Services

Spring 2022

Implement a strategic and intense campaign to students about the meta-majors and how to use them optimally

Sara Freeman*
Public Relations Coordinator

Fall 2022


Our mindset work has focused on Academic Coaching and on the UNIV curriculum. This year we added some questions from the USG Mindset survey to the pre-course surveys and the end-of-course evaluations of UNIV courses; we will have data to report next year. Academic Coaching is effective, but our biggest challenge with Coaching is scale as our corps of Coaches is quite small. One of our Coaches is now a Certified Trainer, and she has begun training Advisors and others across campus to extend the reach of the program. This fall, she and the Associate Vice President for Instruction met with the Director of the Disability Resource Center and the Director of Recruitment and Diversity Initiatives in the Graduate School about training staff in those units to provide Coaching to their students. The UGA Center for Teaching and Learning also includes some information about mindset in many of its faculty development programs and workshops which will affect more students.








Person responsible

(* = new staff member)

New Completion date

Improve understanding of a productive mindset for students and faculty

Expand Academic Coaching and create online modules for students about mindset

Maggie Blanton*
Assistant Director of the Division of Academic Enhancement

Fall 2022

Increase the amount of information about mindset that is part of some faculty development programming

Megan Mittelstadt, Director of the Center of Teaching and Learning

 Fall 2022


The Communication Plan for our 2021 Momentum Work has been significantly delayed due, in large part, to (1) campus-wide exhaustion and (2) turnover in key staff positions. Here is our updated plan.





Person responsible

(* = new staff member)

New Completion date

Improve communication with the entire campus about what we are doing




Feature some aspects of the work in the monthly e-newsletter from the Office of Instruction (OI)

Sara Freeland*
Public Relations Coordinator

 December 2021

Regular communication with academic advisors

Julia Butler-Mayes, Director of Advising Services

December 2021

Regular communication with Assoc. Deans

Naomi Norman, Associate Vice President for Instruction 

December 2021

Regular communication with UGA’s senior leadership team

Rahul Shrivastav, Vice President for Instruction

December 2021

UGA is a data-informed campus, and one of our goals for this year was to study data on students changing their major/s. This project will involve updating and revising the major change dashboard; studying the impact of the Exploratory Center (EC) in reducing the number of major changes made by undergraduate students; and assessing the efficacy of the Orientation Intake survey to identify and then support students who indicate some concern about their declared major.

Once we delved into the data, it was clear that none of these goals were easy. The data structure and decision tree of the original major-change dashboard was found to be inadequate, and the Office of Institutional Research has not had the bandwidth to reset the project. Assessing the impact of the EC was equally problematic although we did pursue a couple of lines of inquiry which proved to be unproductive. It soon became clear that assessing this unit was complicated by the fact that UGA students may change their major/s as often as they like and for any reason without having to obtain any advice or approval from an Academic Advisor. We may need to change our process in order to assess the EC in a meaningful way. The Orientation Intake survey has not existed long enough for any students who took it to have completed their degree, but we are tracking those students and will be able to report data soon. And, of course, all of this work was delayed by COVID issues. Below is our updated data plan.





Person responsible

New completion date

Assess the major change data dashboard

Update and revise the dashboard, using real-time data on major changes

Paul G. Klute, Director of the Office of Institutional Research

December 2022

Assess impact of the Exploratory Center

Track students who change major/s with help from EC advisors and compare to students who change major/s without that help

Naomi Norman, Associate Vice President for Instruction 

December 2021

Assess impact of the orientation in-take survey in identifying students likely to change majors

Track respondents who report lack of confidence in their previously declared major from orientation through graduation.

Julia Butler-Mayes, Director of Advising Services

August 2024


Purposeful Choice 

Strategy or activity  

Orientation Intake Survey

This online survey launched in Summer 2019 and continued in summers 2020 and 2021. As a part of their required Pre-Orientation Checklist, each student must submit the survey before their New Student Orientation advising appointment. The survey asks students about their choice of major and how confident they are that it is the right major for them; it also uses the Holland Interest Inventory questions to provide a baseline self-assessment for major- and career-related guidance. If students indicate anything lower than “satisfied” with their current declared major, the survey displays and emails information about our major exploration resources and services. This information is then uploaded to SAGE (our campus-wide online advising tool) so a student’s advisor has that information to help guide that first one-on-one advising appointment during Orientation.

Summary of Activities  

This is fully implemented and at scale. We will continue to tweak the questions in future years as needed.  

Outcomes/Measures of progress  

In Summer 2021, approximately 89% (up from 80% in 2019) of incoming students completed the survey. This high rate of response means both that most students are reflecting on their choice of major before they even begin to register for classes and that advisors have access to important information before students arrive for their first advising appointment. Approximately 18% (down from 19% in 2020 and 22% in 2019) of students matriculating in Fall 2021 were neutral, unhappy, or very unhappy with their major choice. Those students’ advisors were able then to start a conversation about majors at Orientation and, if appropriate, refer them immediately to the Exploratory Center for counseling with a specially trained advisor about a major. Students who ultimately decided to switch majors thus avoided accumulating extraneous credit hours.

Lessons Learned and Plans for the Future  

The survey is very useful in getting important information into the hands of advisors and creating a space where students are prompted to reflect intentionally on their choice of major even before they register for their first class. We are pleased with the results and will continue to use the survey as a strategy to promote intentional and purposeful choice among our students.

Changes because of COVID-19  

One modification caused by COVID-19 was the pivot to a fully remote New Student Orientation advising experience during summers 2020 and 2021; this meant that crucial information was available to students in the online pre-orientation modules and remained available even after they matriculated at UGA. Advisors reported that students were much better prepared for their orientation advising appointments and better able to articulate their questions or concerns about their choice of major and other issues. This enabled advisors to concentrate on critical questions such as major choice and career aspirations and not spend so much time on technical issues. For summer 2021, we also added a question that asked students to report what percentage of the previous 18 months they spent in remote instruction, which provided valuable data on what level of transitional support these incoming students were likely to need.

 Transparent Pathways 

Strategy or activity  

Holistic Program Maps (HPMs):

HPMs are clear, concise snapshots of how a student can take advantage of holistic opportunities for student success as they maintain momentum along their chosen major pathway. This project relies on strong partnerships with our Division of Student Affairs, Career Center, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, and academic units. Each map includes relevant suggestions and information across five aspects of students’ college experience: academics, experiential learning and involvement, global perspectives, career readiness, and personal wellbeing. The content of each builds from Year 1 through Year 4 by moving from introductory or preparatory recommendations to more advanced or involved opportunities. Displaying this content visually across the five areas and four years allows students, as well as UGA faculty and staff, to understand the interconnected nature of their curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular experiences throughout their college career.

Summary of Activities  

As of fall 2021, we have collected content from all academic units on campus except our College of Arts and Sciences and are working to translate the existing submissions into the HPM templates. We anticipate having all content collected and maps completed by the end of AY 2021-22.

Outcomes/Measures of progress  

In AY 2020-21, we moved from initial content collection for our pilot stage (1 academic unit/4 majors) into our template stage, using a collaboration with our Office of Admissions to design the HPM template. In AY 2021-22, we are focused on completing content collection for our remaining academic units/majors with a target of May to have all HPMs completed. After that, we will focus on translating the HPM format into one that is interactive, as well as creating a build-your-own option for students.

Lessons Learned and Plans for the Future  

Given the wide range of information required for each HPM and the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic, collecting content has proven to be a larger and more time-consuming project than we initially anticipated. Once we have our initial batch of HPMs created and approved, the annual review/updating process should be much less intensive, allowing us to focus on expanding to more interactive versions.

Changes because of COVID-19  

COVID-19 challenges were limited to an extension of content collection deadlines due to additional challenges faced by those from whom we were soliciting content.  

The Orientation Intake survey is the most successful of our Momentum strategies; it was the easiest component of our plan to create, launch, bring to scale, and maintain. The Holistic Program Maps have been extremely well-received by Academic Advisors across campus, our partners in Student Affairs (especially the Office of Student Transitions), and Associate Deans. They have the potential to transform how many students view their program of study as part of their holistic “student career” and not simply as check-boxes to get them to their job.

The members of UGA’s student success and completion team are

Maggie Kerins Blanton

Assistant Director

Division of Academic Enhancement

Julia Butler-Mayes


University Advising Service

Litashia Carter

Coordinator of Transfer Academic Advising Services


Nancy D. Ferguson


Office of Student Financial Aid

Paul Klute


Office of Institutional Research

Naomi J. Norman

Assoc. Vice President for Instruction


Rahul Shrivastav

Vice President for Instruction


Kelly Aline Slaton

Research Analyst

Office of Institutional Research