Georgia College ranks third in state system for four-year graduation rate

Georgia College ranks third in state system for four-year graduation rate

G eorgia College is well ahead of the national average for institutions that graduate students in four years. A recent 3 point increase places Georgia College third in the state’s university system, as well—a sign of innovative programming and commitment to student success.

It shows we’re providing a life-transforming and highly-engaged experience that helps prepare students for a lifetime of success.
– Dr. Steve Dorman, university president

“This is an important indicator of the effectiveness of the education, support provided on campus and experiences that students receive during their time at GC,” said Dr. Steve Dorman, university president. “It shows we’re providing a life-transforming and highly-engaged experience that helps prepare students for a lifetime of success.”

Georgia College’s four-year graduation rate rose 3 points over last year—putting it 32 percent higher than the national average for public universities, which is 38.8 percent. The new rate is 17 percent higher than the overall national average, 43.7 percent, that includes private institutions.

This achievement shows the university’s working efficiently to give students what they need—saving the “precious resource of their time” and lowering the financial burden on families, according to Suzanne Pittman, associate vice president of Enrollment Management. 

In fact, Georgia College has an extremely low student loan default rate—just under 3 percent—one of the lowest in the state. Graduating on time puts students into the job market sooner, so they can begin their earning potential. 

Getting a bachelor’s degree in four years also makes students more competitive for graduate schools and professions like law or medicine. 

“Any time you can show a proven track record of success, it demonstrates you’re focused,” Pittman said. “It shows other schools and potential employers that you’re a serious contender, and you can handle academically-challenging material.” 

The university raised its four-year graduation rate by more than 12 points in the past 10 years. At 51.2 percent, however, there’s still room for improvement. Numbers nationwide remain low on average, officials said, because students change majors, decide to include more courses for a minor, take time off from studies for personal reasons or tackle fewer credits to maintain their HOPE scholarships.

“Our priority is to provide students a well-rounded education and for them to graduate in four years,” said Dr. Costas Spirou, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.
 
“Much of the credit for the increase in our four-year graduation rate goes to our highly-committed faculty and staff,” he said, “who are dedicated to teaching and work closely with our students both inside and outside the classroom to achieve their goals.”

The university did several things in recent years that impacted the four-year graduation rate, Pittman noted. A professional advising model was established, giving advisors the ability to focus on individual plans for student progress. In freshman seminar, students use a computer program to academically map out their college years. This forces students to think about their future, finish mandated courses early and put forethought into career management. 

Georgia College also invested more funds into the Learning Center, providing tutors and supplemental instruction for those who are struggling. A teaching model, Math Emporium, helps students better understand college algebra. 

As part of Georgia College’s unique GC Journeys program, students as early as freshman year interact with counselors at the Career Center. The program ensures every student engages in multiple high-impact, transformational experiences. Practices—like undergraduate research, internships, study abroad and community-based learning—broaden and enrich the college years.

When students participate in these kinds of encounters, they’re more engaged on campus and do better in class. As result, they’re more likely to stay on track and graduate on time.

Georgia College connects its common core curriculum directly to the national LEAP (Liberal Education and America’s Promise) essentials—which include critical thinking and quantitative reasoning. A recent National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) showed Georgia College’s graduating seniors exceeding in areas like reflective, integrated and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction and “discussions with diverse others.”

The University System of Georgia (USG) helped steer this progress with programs like Momentum Year, Complete College Georgia and Gateways to Completion. USG has “done a tremendous job” framing the route to success—encouraging schools to share ideas and work towards common goals, Pittman said. 

“The level of engagement we provide has to be a good thing,” Pittman said. “Fortune 500 companies are looking for graduates with well-rounded educations, who are job ready and able to adjust to new settings, who work well in groups and think critically.”

“These are all things a liberal arts education focuses on,” she said, “so that resonates with parents and prospective students.”