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Gordon State College-[node:field-date:custom:Y]--Open Educational Resources, -Hybrid Courses, -Entirely Online Courses

Strategy/Project Description: 

GSC has continued to build on its efforts to attract, retain, and move to completion traditionally underserved students.  Progress in this area has included the following efforts:

Part-time Students:

GSC’s efforts have focused on flexible course delivery.  We have expanded the online course offerings, especially during the summer term, and created more hybrid courses, including half semester classes (8 weeks). In addition, we have increased the number of classes offered two days a week.

Adult Learners:

  • Weekend College: Adult learners with at least some college credits (including completion of General Education Area A Core requirements), can earn a BS in Human Services in Weekend College. Students attend classes as a cohort – a group of adults with similar interests and occupations – that meets one weekend per month at Gordon State College at McDonough (Henry County High School Complex). Remaining coursework is completed online.  Unlike traditional college degree programs, Weekend College may assign up to 24 credits of prior learning acquired through work experience, educational experience, workplace training or courses that did not carry college credit. The human services bachelor’s degree prepares students for a wide variety of occupations in a fast-growing field. The National Organization for Human Services reports that “employment of human services workers is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations”
  • Our AL Coordinator
    • Developed and enhanced new student orientations specifically for adult learners and planned events to connect adult learners to college campus, culture and resources. 
    • Established tutoring sessions to cater to AL needs, including weekend math and writing tutoring. 
    • Established an AL mentoring program to assist students with getting adjusted to college life.  The AL coordinator worked with several of our adult students to put together a mentoring program that has been well received and is a meaningful experience for both mentees and mentors.
    • Coordinated faculty training in assessing Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) and worked with those faculty to create departmental policies.
  • Another support mechanism for adult learners created this past year is OWLs (Older Wiser Learners), a support group offered through our Counseling and Accessibility office.
  • GSC has required all first-year students with Learning Support requirements to take our 8-week First Year Experience course.  We offer an online section of the course strictly for adult learners each term.  This section was adapted to fit the needs of this student population.

Military and former military: 

GSC main campus and off-campus sites are not located near a military base, and the main campus is not in or near a high-density population area.  We have very few military (current and former) students.

We have continued, however, to find ways to attract veterans and active duty service members in our service area. A staff member in the Counseling and Accessibility Office is our Veterans Coordinator, and she represents GSC on the Regents Advisory Committee on Military Education.  As part of our efforts to be military friendly, we give credit for formal courses and tests connected to the workplace and validated by the American Council on Education (ACE), including DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST) as well as through portfolio evaluation. 

Gordon State College became an active member of SOC (Servicemembers Opportunities College) in 2012. In addition, the Student Veteran Association assists in the development of military programming and supportive services such as Veteran Memorial Services and fundraisers to meet the needs of the veteran population.

Underserved Minority (African American males):

AAMI: In 2009, the college implemented a component of the African-American Male Initiative (AAMI) through the Brother to Brother Chapter of Student African-American Brotherhood (SAAB). This AAMI program includes academic advising, community service, and personal development. Additional features include study skills workshops, team-building activities such as the Challenge Course and bowling, career boot camp, and participation in relevant conferences.    

Historically, African-American males enrolled at our institution have had to overcome challenges such as inadequate academic preparation and the inability to navigate the college setting. In 2009, African-American males accounted for almost 16% of the student population; however, increased admission standards, especially in the area of learning support requirements, have negatively impacted this demographic; enrollment dropped to 11% in Fall 2013.   To that end, this initiative would serve as a catalyst to increase the educational productivity and academic success of African-American males.

Low Income (Pell recipients):

As a state college and an access institution, GSC offers quality education at a great value, and the college emphasizes that fact in its advertising and communications to students and their families.

Once students are enrolled, we support them regarding financial needs:

  • Payment plans: In past years we would lose some low-income students because they had not planned their finances well or did not have enough information (FAFSA results, for example) to plan well.  They might have a relatively small balance that they could not pay, yet they were dropped from classes.  Beginning this fall, GSC has partnered with Nelnet to allow students to pay their balances over time. 
  • Financial education: GSC has added a Financial Literacy component to the Gordon First Year Experience course.  The Office of Financial Aid has promoted Financial Literacy resources to our students for many years.
  • Supplies and meals: GSC allows students to use their aid to pay for textbooks, school supplies, and meal plans.  Students are better equipped to work and to succeed in their classes.
  • Affordable Learning Georgia: Our ALG Campus Champion and Library Coordinator work to inform faculty, staff, and students about Affordable Learning Georgia and the benefits of open educational resources.  Before ALG, a number of our faculty were already exploring ideas to reduce textbook costs for students.  More faculty have been creating free online resources, placing textbooks on reserve in the library, and creating less expensive published materials.  Two faculty members received a grant to create an online writing handbook for students.