Recent studies show Georgia College students highly engaged

Recent studies show Georgia College students highly engaged

P roviding students with a well-round, highly-engaged learning experience is a pillar of the Georgia College education. 

At Georgia’s designated public liberal arts institution, we intentionally work to give our students opportunities to step outside of their usual surroundings, gain authentic experiences, solve problems, become a leader, participate in real-world settings and put ideas into action.

A recent study proves our students receive those opportunities and more. 

“The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is a national survey which is administered by almost every college and university in the United States,” said Dr. Jordan Cofer, associate provost for transformative experiences. “It’s designed to collect data from first-year and senior students to report the quality of the undergraduate experience to faculty, administrators, researchers and others.”

The survey compares students from across the country based on several pillars. Georgia College first-year students showed no significant difference when compared to other universities. However, Georgia College seniors exceeded national peers in a variety of categories including “Collaborative Learning,” “Student-Faculty Interaction,” “Supportive Environment,” “Reflective & Integrated Learning” and “Discussions with Diverse Others.”

“This means while GC first-year students enter on par with our peer groups, they leave as seniors exceeding their peer groups in several different areas,” said Cofer. “This is an important indicator of the effectiveness of the engagement and experiences that students receive during their time at GC.” 

“The survey highlights GC student’s high participation rates in high-impact practices, which make up part of the GC Journeys Initiative,” said Cofer.

The GC Journeys Program encourages students to take advantage of five inside- and outside-the-classroom transformative experiences during their time at Georgia College. The program includes the first-year experience, career planning milestones and the senior capstone course, which are all required. Each student can then personalize their experience by choosing to take part in at least two other options: study abroad, community-based engaged learning, undergraduate research, an internship or leadership programs. 

Kendyl Lewis
Kendyl Lewis

Senior Kendyl Lewis knows firsthand the advantages of these high-impact practices. The double major in psychology and economics has taken part in several during her time at GC and uses those experience to supplement her education. 

Participating in leadership programs, an internship and undergraduate research has really allowed me to apply what I've been learning in the classroom into real-world settings—so really taking that liberal arts mission to heartt
– Kendyl Lewis

“Participating in leadership programs, an internship and undergraduate research has really allowed me to apply what I've been learning in the classroom into real-world settings—so really taking that liberal arts mission to heart,” said Lewis. “They allow me to not just think about the classes I’m taking in my majors, but also how can I think about those in a way that might prepare me for a career or to be a better leader in my community one day.”

Among her many accolades, Lewis founded the student organization Swipe Out Hunger during her first-year at Georgia College. She credits that experience as laying the foundation for her continued engagement and desire to broaden her knowledge. 

“I didn't come into college thinking that I'd be able to start my own student organization, but with the help of leadership programs, and some of my mentors here, I found out that I had this ability to lead others and to really focus on a mission,” said Lewis. “That's something that I really got out of leadership programs.”

Cameron Watts
Cameron Watts

Recent alumnus, Cameron Watts, ’20, continues to see the benefits of taking part in study abroad and leadership programs—two of the high-impact practices. 

“A big part of my experience was doing a study abroad at Oxford and in Heidelberg, Germany. Because I was able to do that and be independent, I became a lot more comfortable pursuing new opportunities and new places,” said Watts, who just recently started a new job. 

“I've been a Georgia boy my whole life, but there was this opportunity in Philadelphia, and I wanted to go pursue it,” said Watts. “I had all the tools and the confidence that I needed to pursue my dreams in a way that I don't think I would have if I hadn’t been at Georgia College.”

The goal for Cofer is that all students have this sort of life-changing experience, and the NSSE results affirm the efforts are working. 

“It shows the kind of the quality of education that they're getting during those four years,” said Cofer.” If they come into Georgia College on par with every other student, but they leave excelling nationally, it shows we're doing something right.”

These results come on the heels of similar findings in the 2019 Indiana University High-Impact Practices Quality study. Georgia College was selected to participate in that study, which showed the quality of the high-impact practices and student engagement. With 453 students participating, the study found that Georgia College was performing at or above national levels, especially in the areas of undergraduate research and study abroad

Ultimately, these results show that the opportunities that students have through GC Journeys and education that students receive at Georgia College is putting them ahead of national peers.
– Dr. Jordan Cofer

View the full NSSE report here.