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GSC, other schools, hope to boost college graduates

Gov. Nathan Deal’s initiative to increase the numbers of Georgians earning a degree ‘“ reached another milestone today with the release of a report with specific plans by institutions in both the University System of Georgia (USG) and Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). Gordon State College is a part of the initiative. The campus plans detail exactly how the ambitious goal of adding an additional 250,000 postsecondary graduates to the state’s rolls by 2020 is going to be met. As institutions begin to implement the plans, higher education officials point out that they will receive continued assistance to improve the plans and will be held accountable for progress. ’The plans are a signal of the immense effort to date, a renewed and strengthened focus on access and graduation, and a commitment to continue and expand the work over the coming years,’ said Lynne Weisenbach, the USG’s vice chancellor for Educational Access and Success, who is leading the CCG efforts in the University System. ‘Increasing Georgia’s college completion rate is not something that can be changed overnight and is about the learning process to continually improve and find what works.’ Weisenbach said that throughout the University System, many efforts will have a positive effect on college affordability by shortening the time to degree, lessening the likelihood a student may stop-out temporarily from their education, and providing options so students may attend school while working, serving their country and raising a family. University System institutions have built upon localized partnerships with K-12 schools, TCSG, businesses, and foundations in developing the plans. ‘This is about serving and working with the local community and in many cases Complete College Georgia gives institutions a new avenue to reach out and build on those relationships,’ said Weisenbach. Gordon State College has a multi-faceted program to meet the goals of Complete College Georgia. ’Gordon continues to emphasize some components we already have in place, such as the Student Success Center and our partnership with the Lamar County College and Career Academy,’ said Richard Baskin, associate vice president of academic affairs. ‘At the same time, we are developing initiatives to address student needs more effectively. We are, for example, giving special attention to our non-traditional students, some of whom are active military.  Faculty members have volunteered to provide guidance for these students, who now make up 26 percent of our student population. In addition, Counseling and the Student Success Center are working together to meet the specific needs of these students.’ The First Year Experience course Jennifer Standish is taking as a nontraditional freshman at Gordon State College is giving her the boost she needs to be a successful student. ’Oh, the course has really helped me,’ she said. ‘Starting college for everyone is tough I think, but when you are 29, it is a whole different world.’ Standish is one of a growing number of students either entering college for the first time or returning to the classroom later in life. The First Year Experience course is designed to help both traditional and nontraditional freshmen acclimate to the rigors of a college classroom. Studies have shown that college students are most at risk for failure during their first year of study. Gordon’s strategies to meet the goals of CCG also include increasing the number of academic advisors, offering college courses to high school seniors, and participation in the Soldiers to Scholars program which helps members of the armed forces transition from service to the classroom. Gordon’s plan can be viewed at http://www.gdn.edu/pdf/complete_college_georgia_plan.pdf-2012-09-06 The full Complete College Georgia plan is available online http://www.usg.edu/educational_access/documents/USG_Campus_Completion_Plans.pdf

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