Feb. 15, 2010
Andrea Jones, 404-413-1351
Ask any college student around and you'll hear that juggling class schedules, jobs and good grades can be tough.
At Georgia State University, there is a whole team of people who help guide students to academic success.
Georgia State has recently implemented several programs aimed at boosting student success and helping students both gain and maintain the HOPE scholarship all the way to graduation.
Keeping the HOPE scholarship, Georgia's popular merit-based aid program, is often a tricky endeavor for college students. The scholarship, awarded to students who graduate with a 3.0 GPA from a HOPE-eligible high school, pays for tuition and fees at public colleges in Georgia. Students are required to maintain that grade point average in college to continue to receive funds. Yet studies show that just a third of all recipients statewide graduate with HOPE intact.
Administrators, advisors and faculty at GSU are working hard to reverse that trend.
Georgia State officials now look at courses that students have the most trouble succeeding in and offer supplemental instruction in those classes, including peer tutors. Student advising has changed too, with academic advisers now coming into freshman classes to meet students in their environment.
A new campus-wide program called "Grades First," allows instructors to identify freshmen who are struggling early on in the semester. That information is used to invite students to one-on-one and group tutoring sessions, said Timothy Renick, Georgia State's Associate Provost for Academic Programs and Chief Enrollment Officer.
"We are reaching out in a number of ways, " Renick said.
For students who do lose HOPE, Georgia State offers a "Keep HOPE Alive," program, where students participate in a series of intensive academic workshops to help them get their grades back up.
"We've already seen striking results," Renick said. Generally, about 8 percent of students are able to gain back HOPE after they lose it. For those in the pilot workshop program, 43 percent did.
For Georgia State sophomore Ebony Royal, the supplemental instruction she receives for a biology class means she'll have a chance to earn the HOPE scholarship herself. As a transfer student and Georgia resident, she can qualify for HOPE in an upcoming semester. For now, Royal goes over study guides and receives extra instruction for her biology class after the lectures are over.
"I figured since I'm not a science major, it certainly couldn't hurt to get some extra help," she said.
She's been attending supplemental instruction sessions since her class started and said she can absolutely see the results. She also took SI for a class last semester and received an A in the class.
"I just got a 95 on my exam," she said proudly. While qualifying for scholarship money is great, she said, "It's really great to call up my dad and say, "Hey, I got an A!"
Students who take advantage of supplemental instruction do about half a grade better than their counterparts who do not. According to Renick, "That can be the difference between losing and holding onto the HOPE scholarship."
Renick said Georgia State is committed to helping students succeed.
"One thing we have to appreciate is that success at the university level is not merely a product of the academic skills of students," he said. "It's also the resources they have available to them."