East Georgia State College, one of thirty-five institutions of higher education in the University System of Georgia, is striving daily to execute its goals for the Complete College Georgia Initiative (CCG) .
Complete College Georgia, Governor Nathan Deal’s initiative to increase the number of Georgians completing college, was launched last August. Just one year later, every one of the state’s public higher education institutions has a plan detailing exactly how they will meet an ambitious goal of adding an additional 250,000 postsecondary graduates to the state’s rolls by 2020.
A 2011 study by Georgetown University found that to meet projected workforce needs, Georgia will need to increase the percentage of its population with some level of college completion from a current 42 percent to 60 percent over the next eight years. The short time frame was the impetus for the Governor’s initiative and public higher education’s fast response to the challenge.
“The state of Georgia is on the leading edge of the national Complete College America effort,” said Interim President, Dr. Bob Boehmer. “Georgia’s work in increasing college completion has been focused and timely. Clearly, the state’s efforts and results make it a national leader.”
“Here at East Georgia State College, we are uniquely positioned to make a major contribution to Complete College Georgia,” Dr. Boehmer continued. “We are a teaching-focused access institution with a track record of success in finding creative ways to assure the academic success to the large and growing number of students within the golden triangle connecting Savannah, Macon, and Augusta. The combined forces of our faculty, staff and administrators will provide a major boost in our efforts to assure that students graduate and move on to become productive members of an educated Georgia workforce,” stated Dr. Boehmer.
EGSC is strengthening its learning environment by focusing on support services that will assist students in completing a college degree. In addition to the library, the relocated Heritage Center and a coffee shop named Common Grounds; the Learning Commons now includes the Academic Center for Excellence (ACE) comprised of an advisement center, tutoring center and computer lab. ACE also includes areas for individual research, group discussion and classrooms. A similar Learning Commons facility has been incorporated at EGSC Statesboro.
Sophomore and Student Government Association President, Tommy Green, stated during the ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the Learning Commons, “This new Learning Commons will give every student the tools to achieve academic excellence. I sincerely thank Senator David and Mrs. Luck Gambrell and the college and state leadership for helping students to better achieve a brighter future. Thank you!”
“Students continue to challenge us and we continue to meet the challenge," commented Mrs. Gambrell in her address to the students and community guests at the Learning Commons ribbon-cutting. She encouraged the students to never stop raising the bar because, “This is all done for you!”
East Georgia State College has adopted other plans that relate to Complete College Georgia including a goal of implementing a comprehensive college success program that enables all its students to achieve their academic goals with minimum delay and expense.
Three steps have been added to this goal. Step 1: Transition students smoothly to college. Increase proportion of academically prepared students, while maintaining an access mission. Step 2: Promote optimal student choices. Provide an environment that clarifies student choices while improving their ability to make sound, informed decisions. Step 3: Ensure students attain individual academic goals. Increase proportion of students who graduate fully prepared to take the next step on their journeys.
In order to achieve the above goal and assist students in completing the three steps described above, the following initiatives will be implemented:
• Establish school partnership programs;
• Create new summer programs: A Jump Start Academy and an Intensive Academic Program;
• Restructure learning support delivery to facilitate early exit;
• Provide supplemental instruction and support for key gateway courses;
• Expand residence hall learning/living communities;
• Incorporate emerging technology to enhance delivery of face-to-face and online courses;
• Promote improved student decision-making through critical thinking (Quality Enhancement Plan);
• Deepen student engagement through expanded service opportunities (service seal of distinction);
• Provide Associate of Arts degrees to Statesboro students beginning in spring semester 2013;
• Create new educational opportunities for military and reverse-transfer students;
• Refine EGSC’s early warning system and integrate that system into ACE;
• Establish new programs of study to inspire student interest and meet workforce needs;
• Enhance collaborative relationships with other higher education institutions, particularly sister institutions in the USG and TCSG.
Other Complete College Georgia efforts include, improving access and completion for students traditionally underserved, shorten time of credits to degrees, restructuring instructional delivery, and transforming remediation.
EGSC and other campuses have worked since spring and the individual institutional plans were submitted to the Governor’s office in early September and are now being rolled out publicly. The institutional plans paint a picture of how campuses are taking current college completion efforts and creating a broader awareness and commitment on the part of faculty and staff.
“In the University System, we have placed a high priority on increasing retention and graduation rates for a number of years and we have a history of both System-level and institutional efforts toward this goal,” said Chancellor Hank Huckaby. “But with Complete College Georgia, we saw a great opportunity to not only strengthen our partnerships with the Technical College System and Department of Education, but also to think more comprehensively and differently about how we approach college completion.”