Owning Student Success

In the second of three posts focusing on key imperatives in our new Strategic Plan 2018-23, “Elevating Middle Georgia”, this week we take a closer look at student success.

The University System of Georgia is committed to graduating more students with career-enhancing credentials.  This goal or outcome is at the very core and identity of the second imperative in our new plan: “Own Student Success.” Success in this sense is both a process AND an outcome.

As you have no doubt heard, we are having a banner semester when it comes to enrollment—reaching an enrollment of 7,805 this Fall and being ranked for the first time since we became a university in U.S. News & World Report. While it is very encouraging to draw more students, the essence of our work lies in ensuring that the students we attract ultimately succeed at Middle Georgia State and beyond.

As well as a headcount of 7,805 students, it is very important to note that our students are taking more credit hours—currently over 7% ahead of last fall—and the research is clear.  The more courses students take, the greater the retention and graduation rates.

In other words, our intentionality extends beyond recruitment and retention to progression and graduation. This begins with knowing who our students are.

For instance, we know that this year’s incoming freshmen had an average high school GPA of 3.04 and some 18% of them earned college credit through dual enrollment or AP courses. We know that our students—not just freshmen—hail from the US and 59 other countries, from Georgia and 34 other states, and from 151 of Georgia’s 159 counties. We know that the top three majors among new incoming students are Health Services Administration/Pre-license BSN, Biology, and Aviation Science & Management. And that one of the fastest growing majors is Information Technology. We also know that the top 5 most common names among applicants to Middle Georgia State are: Michael, Taylor, Jordan, Ashley, and Jacob.

Our mission calls us—each of us—to know our students not only collectively but individually. Many of our students balance their academic endeavors with financial and personal responsibilities. That balance can feel precarious at times and it is our faculty and staff who step in to provide the safety net that often helps students bounce back, learn from experiences both in and out of the classroom, and stay on track toward earning a credential.

Whether our contribution to a student’s journey is delivering a required course, offering guidance on a career path, organizing a program that helps them develop soft skills, removing or helping them navigate an administrative hurdle, or simply offering an encouraging smile as we cross paths with them on campus, each interaction makes a difference. Next week marks the midterm for Fall 2018. The following week, registration for Spring 2019  begins.

As students prepare for midterm exams and projects, how are we each “owning” our responsibility to support their success? As they look ahead toward the next semester, how are we each “owning” our duty to help them make wise choices?

With more than 80% of our graduates remaining in Middle Georgia after graduation, the investment of time and energy we make in our students results in success not only for each of them, but for all of us in this region. Thank you for keeping that in mind and our students’ success at heart as we reach the midpoint of our Fall semester!