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University System of Georgia Campus Plan Update 2014

Campus Plan Updates for 2014

Complete College Georgia is a statewide effort to increase the number Georgians with a high quality certificate or degree. Under the leadership of Governor Nathan Deal, it has continued to build momentum since its launch in 2011. The University System of Georgia (USG) and the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) have advanced highimpact, research-driven strategies aligned with the primary goal of the initiative: to increase student access to, progression through, and successful graduation from institutions of higher education.

The past year has seen a number milestones and accomplishments as institutions across the system integrate the core work areas of CCG into their institutional mission. USG hosted symposia on new learning models and predictive analytics, as well as meetings on transforming remediation, strategies for on-time completion, and reverse transfer of credit for the purpose of awarding degrees. System staff collaborated with institutional representatives on a number of policy initiatives that resulted in new policies and procedures to reduce barriers to student progress and success. The System office was also able to continue to provide short-term funding to support innovative projects at institutions aligned with completion goals that have the potential to be scaled up to be implemented across the system.

To capture the progress of the previous year, each campus provides updates on strategies, processes and outcomes in the enclosed status reports. The updates contain a self-assessment of the progress made to date, any substantial changes from last year’s plan, and reflect on lessons learned throughout the year. This year’s reports were streamlined and focused, with institutions asked to align goals, strategies, and measure of progress and success with their institutional profile and mission. This year’s report also provides a summary of System Office CCG activities. The plans that follow serve to update the campus plans that were first submitted in 2012 as well as to provide an overview of the breadth of work that is underway in Georgia to achieve the ambitious goals of Complete College Georgia.


Georgia became one of the inaugural states in the Complete College America coalition in 2009, committing to a comprehensive approach to improving post-secondary certificate and degree attainment in the state.  A partnership was forged between the University System of Georgia (USG), the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) and the state's independent colleges.  These groups adopted an ambitious agenda to better prepare Georgia's workforce for the demands of a 21st Century workplace. 

Improving post-secondary outcomes does not occur in a vacuum.  Achieving meaningful increases in the number of Georgians with certificates and degrees requires dedicated partnerships among K-12 education, the TCSG, the USG and the private sector.  A greater number of high school students will need to move through post-secondary education more efficiently and more adults must be encouraged and supported as they enter or return to college in order to meet Georgia's ambitious goals.  

CCG in Context

When Governor Nathan Deal launched the Complete College Georgia (CCG) initiative in August 2011, he called for specific measures at all institutions in the state's University System and TCSG to increase access, retention and completion.  At the time, the percentage of Georgians with post-secondary credentials was 42 percent, considerably below the level of attainment that the state will require in the near future to remain competitive nationally.  This increase in degree attainment will allow more Georgians the opportunity to participate in furthering the state's economy at an optimal level.

Governor Deal announced CCG at the depth of the Great Recession, when college enrollment nationally and in Georgia surged as displaced workers returned to school to improve their skills and expand their opportunities.  As the weight of the economic downturn has abated, post-secondary enrollment has declined as many of these students have been re-tooled and re-trained to enter Georgia's workforce with meaningful credentials that have made them workforce ready.  This shift of students to the workforce has amplified the challenges of meeting the ambitious goals set out for the state in 2011 and made the efforts underway even more critical.

System Profile

The University System of Georgia includes 31 institutions, with fall 2013 enrollment of 309,469 students.  This figure is down from the record high enrollment of 318,027 the System experienced in fall 2011.  From that high point, enrollment has declined as the as the pinch of the economic downturn diminishes.  Fall 2013 enrollment fell below Fall 2010 enrollment, and by Fall 2014, enrollment had dropped down to near Fall 2009 levels. 

The University System's institutions range in headcount from 2,226 at South Georgia State College to 34,4518 at the University of Georgia. Nearly 90 percent of students served by USG institutions are from Georgia, with just under 7 percent of students from out of state, and 4 percent of enrollment consisting of international students. The University System serves a diverse population:

 »   54 percent white               »   27.7 percent Black

»   7.3 percent Asian              »   6.2 percent Hispanic

»   4.8 percent other categories/unreported.

Over the past five years, the number of Hispanic students has increased by 50 percent and the percentage of Asian students has increased by 17 percent. Figure 1 illustrates the shifting composition of students enrolled in USG institutions.

Figure 1: USG Enrollment by Ethnicity,
Fall 2009 to Fall 2013


The impact of the changing economy has been compounded by changes in admissions standards at University System Institutions, which were strengthened in 2011 and 2012 to bar admission to students requiring learning support in all three areas or who scored below pre-determined floor scores in any one area.  Across the System, the impact of enrollment shifts has been felt most acutely at state colleges, which experienced the most significant year-on-year percentage increases and decreases over this period, growing 5.5 percent in total enrollment as a sector between 2009 and 2010 and shrinking 14.1 percent between 2012 and 2013.  The impact of these shifts is amplified by the generally smaller enrollment size at these institutions, creating a challenging environment in which to plan and conduct long-term completion activities. This being said, the continued commitment many of these institutions have made to CCG is even more remarkable. Figure 2 illustrates recent enrollment trends by sector.

Figure 2: USG Enrollment by Sector, 2009-2013

*In 2013, the term regional university was changed to comprehensive university and two state universities were added to this category.

The University System's mission is to create a more educated Georgia. Census data from 2013 indicate that 36 percent of young adults (ages 25-34) and nearly 38 percent of all working age adults (age 25-64) possess at least an associate's degree.  22 percent of working age Georgians—well over a million—indicate that they have some college, but no degree.  Georgia's young adult population has educational attainment levels above the national average for associates degrees and higher, but across the working age population, the situation is reversed.  Figure 3 illustrates this situation.

Figure 3: Educational Attainment among Young Adults (25-34) and Working Age Adults (25-64),
Georgia and United States, 2013

Reaching the learners who are the core of the working age population is a major imperative for the University System. Non-traditional enrollment increased by 7 percent in 2010 over 2009 and 3.3 percent in 2011 over 2010, but fell by 5.9 percent in 2012 and by more than 10 percent in 2013.  During this time, the percentage of enrollment that is non-traditional rose from 12.6 percent to a high of 13.2 percent before falling off to 11.5 percent at the end of the period. 

As post-secondary degrees and credentials have become more important, the need for all Georgians to access and succeed in college has increased as well.  Unfortunately, approximately 30 percent of students enrolling at USG institutions arrive unprepared for college-level work.  For these students, colleges have long provided support and resources to prepare them for college-level work in basic skill areas.  These remedial programs has been heavily scrutinized in recent years, and the University System has undertaken an ambitious program to transform how remediation is provided and how students who are unprepared for college-level work are served on our campuses. 

Georgia's educational attainment rates have improved over the past five years, due in part to degree conferrals at all levels rising by 18.2 percent since 2009.  While the state has been able to exceed its goals for degree production since the announcement of the Complete College Georgia initiative in 2011-2012, demographic and economic trends are likely to dampen some of this progress in the years to come.  Figure 4 provides a view of degree production from 2009-2013.

Figure 4: USG Degree production 2009-2014

Georgia's colleges and universities provide a wide range of programs to meet the state's diverse needs.  The System office has continued to work with institutions to focus on research-based, high-impact strategies that have the potential to improve student outcomes.  Top-level work areas that have been the focus of the System's Complete College Georgia activities are:

College Readiness

Improving Access and Completion for Underserved Students

Shortening the Time to Degree

Restructuring Instructional Delivery, and

Transforming Remediation

These top level strategies have in some instances been further refined to provide more flexibility to serve the range of institutions within the University System. 

Goals and Strategies

The overarching goal for Complete College Georgia is to increase the number of undergraduate degrees awarded by USG institutions.  In order to achieve this goal, the University System has adopted seven strategically-oriented, supporting goals:

1.      Increase the number of degrees that are earned ‘on time’ (associate degrees in 2 years,

2.      Decrease excess credits earned on the path to getting a degree, allowing students to

3.      Provide targeted advising to keep students on track to graduate. With targeted advising, advisors will focus on strategies required to ensure that students complete degrees on time and without excess credit consumption, and they will very specifically focus on identifying and intervening with students who have

4.      Award degrees to students who may have already met requirements for associate degrees

5.      Shorten time to degree completion through programs that allow students to earn college credit while still in high school and by awarding credit for prior learning

6.      Increase the likelihood of degree completion by transforming the way that remediation is accomplished. Remediation refers to efforts to support students who are not prepared for college-level work in basis courses by offering additional instruction designed to prepare them for success in credit-bearing,

7.      Restructure instructional delivery to support educational excellence and student success. Instructional delivery can encompass any innovative means of new pedagogical methods, including e-texts, online education, flipped classrooms, and a host of

Each goal addresses a specific challenge to completion that has been identified through research.  By approaching completion through a set of goals focused on removing specific barriers to success, the University System is advancing a strategy with sufficient flexibility to be effective at every campus in the System and adaptable enough to have impact across the institutional spectrum in Georgia. The success of this flexible approach is evident in the degree and scope of adoption of strategies across the System.  Table 1 shows the use of the seven goals listed above across 30 USG institutions.

This represents a wide range of activities across the System, and underscores a deep commitment to completion work throughout the state.  The variety of goal-oriented strategies offers institutions to focus on those activities that match their profile and institutional mission, while not expending limited resources to pursue goals that are not priorities for the institution.   Identification of and use of these common goals have helped to focus the work at the System level on high impact strategies and provided guidance on how to implement various activities at the campus level.

Summary of Goals, High Impact Strategies and Activities

Goal 1

Increase the number of degrees that are earned ‘on time’ (associate degrees in 2 years, bachelor's degrees in 4 years)

High-impact strategy

Credit Intensity campaigns (15-to-Finish, 4 for U, Full Time is 15)

With public colleges and universities requiring (120) credit hours to attain a Bachelor's degree, completing 15 credit hours per semester is required to graduate on time and saves students and their parents additional costs for tuition, fees, housing, and meal plans. Graduating on time means students can begin working and accumulating wealth earlier. By finishing on time, students have more options: more career opportunities, competitive salaries, better benefits and security. Earning a degree pays, and earning it faster means making more money over the span of one's career.

Summary of Activities

The University System's efforts to promote credit intensity programs across the state have been aided in large part by our partners at Georgia Perimeter College, who have spearheaded the Georgia 15-to-Finish campaign.  A number of schools in the System have adopted programs to encourage students to pursue a full-time course load that will lead to on-time completion. 

This work included a 15-to-Finish symposium in April 2014 that brought together representatives from System institutions to learn how to implement similar strategies, including conversations among registrars, advisors, campus communications specialists, and academic and administrative leadership.

Across the System, 19 institutions reported activities related to on-time degree production on their CCG strategy survey, with several providing narrative details in their reports that they are pursuing this strategy.

Four institutions—Georgia College and State University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Regents University, and the University of Georgia—have adopted a tuition structure that promotes full-time attendance and on-time completion. By charging ‘full’ tuition at a lower credit hour threshold, students are encouraged to maximize the number of credits they pursue.  In the case of Georgia Regents University, which has a very intentionally designed program to encourage students to take 15 or more credit hours per semester, there is evidence that this approach can be demonstrated to increase students attempting and completing 15 credits per semester.

Interim Measures of Progress

Campus adoption of credit intensity strategies.

Measures of Success

On-time degree conferrals increase year on year.

Goal 2

Decrease excess credits earned on the path to getting a degree

High-impact strategy

Guided Pathways to Success

Guided Pathways to Success (GPS) is a Complete College America Grant-supported initiative to ensure that students receive guidance to complete degree programs efficiently, without taking excessive courses that will not count toward degrees. The goal is to provide clear degree roadmaps and intrusive advising to keep students on the path to a degree. Guided Pathways to Success moves away from offering students a "menu" of options that can lead to excessive credit accrual and no clear path to a degree.

Recognizing that students without declared majors are at particular risk for taking courses that will not count toward degree completion, institutions are encouraged to develop "meta-majors" for first-semester or first-year students that will direct students to take courses that will count toward any major within a broad grouping and strategies for undecided students to sample majors and careers.

Guiding students to degree completion requires supplementing human resources, such as advisors, with electronic tools that track student progress and guide them to take appropriate courses, in some cases by actively blocking inappropriate course selection. Programs already in use in USG institutions, such as Banner and Degree Works, supplemented by predictive analytics, can alert advisors when students veer off track, allowing advisors to intervene quickly and get students back on track to graduation.

Summary of Activities

In 2014, with support from Complete College America, the University System convened a group of eight vanguard institutions to pilot a comprehensive system of interventions and actions to ensure that students receive appropriate guidance on completion, avoid accruing excess credits that will not count toward a degree, and provide clear program maps that will guide them through their program. These vanguard institutes will serve as scalable models so that all USG institutions can adopt GPS by Fall of 2016.

GPS involves use of choice architecture strategies for course selection, establishing metamajors for undecided students and default or block schedules for those with a major.  Metamajors encompass several majors but share a core of courses, allowing students added flexibility in final choices. Programs are built with prescribed program maps that ensure that students meet requirements; institutions are expected to guarantee that courses on the map will be offered when the student needs them, and within the block schedule that they are offered.

The GPS program also advocates the use of targeted advising informed by predictive analytics to help keep students on track and let them know their likelihood of success in particular programs or courses. 

Interim Measures of Progress

Interim measures of success for this activity include the submission of implementation plans by the eight vanguard institutions; creation and implementation of program maps, block schedules and choice architecture at the vanguard institutions for high-enrollment programs; and establishment of standards for intrusive advising.

Measures of Success

Students graduating with excess credits will decline over the next five years as campuses implement plans.

Goal 3

Provide targeted advising to keep students on track to graduate

High-impact strategy

Predictive Analytics

USG institutions collect a wealth of data on their students.  The ability to use the power of this large pool of information to predict likely student outcomes under various scenarios has become increasingly feasible and important.  By pooling large sets of data and mining them for an array of factors it is possible to identify key courses that predict future success in a program, craft models on which student progression can be projected, and link interventions to clear points of concern.  Using data in this manner provides institutions with a powerful tool to help shape student outcomes and campus success.

Summary of Activities

USG institutions have expressed strong interest in harnessing the data that they collect on student progress and success to better inform advising, course-taking, and student decision-making on their campuses.  To facilitate the rapid expansion of the use of predictive data analytics to inform student progress, the Office of Educational Access and Success partnered with Georgia State University on a practical workshop on using predictive analytics to enhance student success.

Held in February 2014 at Georgia State University, the symposium provided an overview of how predictive analytics has been used at GSU to increase student success, and provided specific sessions on academic advising; financial advising; first year pathways; enrollment management; academic support, curricular redesign, and how to address institutional roadblocks.  More than 120 representatives from institutions across the System participated in the day-long workshop.  According to the CCG Strategy Survey, 24 institutions report pursuing targeted advising, most of which are using this strategy in concert with predictive analytics.

Interim Measures of Progress

Campuses will identify milestones in program maps and predictor courses for future success; Predictive analytics is implemented on campus to identify students who are off-track, with appropriate interventions at appropriate times.

Measures of Success

Increase in overall percentage of credits successfully completed versus attempted each semester.

Goal 4

Award degrees to students who may have already met requirements for associate degrees via courses taken at one or more institutions.

High-impact strategy

Reverse Transfer/Credit When It's Due

Summary of Activities

Work on awarding of associate degrees by reverse transfer of credit is supported, in part, by a ‘Credit When It's Due’ grant from Lumina Foundation. In July 2014 the University System sponsored a conference for campuses on implementing reverse transfer and initiated discussions about processes and procedures to identify eligible students and to award degrees to students who have satisfied degree requirements but have not received them.  The reverse transfer strategy encourages students who have left associate-degree-granting institutions without degrees to apply for associate degrees when they have accumulated enough credits at a bachelor's degree institution to qualify for award of an associate degree.

At the July conference, institutions were invited to review recent transfer data and discuss policy and communications barriers that exist to implementing reverse transfer programs.   Associate degree granting institutions were encouraged to coordinate with their primary transfer institutions to establish policies, procedures and practices that will aid in identification of eligible students and the awarding of degrees. 

Interim Measures of Progress

Establish an information release procedure for students upon matriculation allowing for data-sharing related to awarding degrees automatically; minimize fees for awarding of degrees; establish degree audit protocols for students with greater than 60 credit hours to determine degree eligibility; establish process to allow transfer students to opt-in for data sharing with associate-degree granting institution.

Measures of Success

The number of degrees awarded through reverse transfer of credit will increase.

Goal 5

Shorten time to degree completion through programs that allow students to earn college credit while still in high school and by awarding credit for prior learning that is verified by appropriate assessment.

High-impact strategy

Dual enrollment, Move on When Ready, Prior Learning Assessment.

Summary of Activities

A number of dual enrollment options provide students in Georgia with the opportunity to enroll in college courses, provided they meet college entrance requirements and take courses from an approved list. If students meet course entrance and completion requirements, they receive high school and college credit.   Eligible dual enrollment students may defray the cost of their college courses through the Accel program, Move on When Ready or by receiving the HOPE Grant.  In addition to reducing the need for remediation, students successfully completing dual enrollment courses also reduce time to degree completion.

 The Georgia Early College Initiative allows students to earn a high school diploma and an associate's degree or up to two years of dual enrollment college credit towards a bachelor's degree by offering them a challenging high school curriculum and supportive environment. Each school is a partnership developed between a University System of Georgia Institution and a local Georgia school district. All Georgia Early Colleges operate with the objective to increase high school graduation and college success rates of traditionally underserved students (low income, first generation and minority). There are currently nine Early Colleges in Georgia and approximately 250 across the country.

Twenty-six institutions across the system report actively pursuing activities that reduce time to degree, with the most commonly adopted being the use of AP and International Baccalaureate assessments to award collegiate credit for courses pursed in high school, and the acceptance Program of College Level Examination (CLEP) and DSST exam scores to award credit for prior learning.  Additionally, a handful of institutions provide for portfolio assessments as another avenue for students to document and receive credit for prior learning.   

Interim Measures of Progress

»     Number of students participating in Dual Enrollment, Move on When Read, and credit hours earned through these programs.

»     Number of students receiving credit for Prior Learning. 

»     Number of students who receive credit based on assessment of Prior Learning. 

»     Number of credits awarded for Prior Learning

Measures of Success

Degrees completed by students who earned credits through Dual Enrollment, Move on When Ready, Prior Learning Assessment.

Goal 6

Increase the likelihood of degree completion by transforming the way that remediation is accomplished.

High-impact strategy

Updated learning support policy and procedure

Adoption of corequisite Learning Support for the majority of students requiring remediation.

Summary of Activities

Beginning in 2013, and continuing through 2014, the Council on General Education and the Office of Educational Access and Success reviewed existing policy and practice with respect to remediation, considered evidence and input from research across other institutions and deliberated options that would succeed across the range of USG institutions.

The result was a transformation of remediation from placement through delivery and eventual measures of success.  The reconstructed model includes:

»     Revision of USG policies and procedures for Learning Support

»     Redefining the focus of remediation from trying to compensate for what students did not learn in K-12 to focus on providing students with appropriate support for completion of credit-bearing collegiate courses that serve as the gateway to the college curriculum for all students.  Remediation efforts in the USG have been referred to as Learning Support for many years.  Efforts to transform remediation have focused on putting the ‘Support’ back into Learning Support efforts.

»     Requiring most Learning Support to be delivered in a corequisite model beginning by Fall of 2015. Using the corequisite strategy, students take a 1 or 2 credit remedial course WHILE taking the related credit-bearing collegiate course (English 1101 or a collegiate math course), decreasing the time, credit, and cost required to complete remediation and start earning collegiate credit.

»     Combining reading and writing into a single English remediation course

»     Eliminated COMPASS test as an exit exam

»     Using completion of the gateway collegiate course as the criterion for exiting Learning Support

»     Reconfiguring the criteria used to evaluate the need for Learning Support (modeled on historical performance data) so that placement in or exemption from Learning Support is no longer dependent on the score a single high-stakes test

»     Adoption of the new indices for placing students in Learning Support

Interim Measures of Progress

»     Number of USG institutions using the corequisite model as their predominant form of remediation

»     Percentage of remedial students in the USG with initial placement into corequisite Learning Support

Measures of Success

»     Percentage of students who exit Learning Support within 1, 2, or 3 semesters.

»     Percentage of students in corequisite Learning Support who successfully complete the gateway collegiate course compared to students in gateway courses who exempted Learning Support requirements.

»     Ultimately, the percentage of students who start in Learning Support who complete degrees on time and within 150% time.

Goal 7

Restructure instructional delivery to support educational excellence and student success

High-impact strategy

Online eCore and Pre-Calculus emporium; New Learning Models Massive Open Online Collaboration (Inventing the Beyond), increase access and success in key courses in the core curriculum while leveraging technology to contain or decrease costs to students.; innovation grants in open educational resources and flipped classrooms

Summary of Activities

In 2013, the University System continued its work on new learning models:

»     expanding and extending eCore (the Systems' online core curriculum, available to all USG students)

»     refining the Math 1113 online emporium model precalculus course, and

»     developing a scenario-based planning process that will help the System and institutions define the factors that are critical for their success in the next 15 years.

Also in 2013, the Office of Educational Access and Success extended innovation and incubator grants to Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Georgia, and the University of North Georgia to implement flipped classrooms, hybrid instruction models, or open educational resources in high participation courses.  These activities were intended as demonstration projects that would be able to be sustained at the institution level after the initial year of funding.  In several cases, the grant projects have been successful enough to either be expanded upon or adopted outside of the original institution. 

Interim Measures of Progress

»     Number of courses offered via eCore.

»     Participation and success rates in experimental courses, such as the Pre-Calculus emporium.

»     Participation in and products from Inventing the Beyond (New Learning Models Massive Open Online Collaboration – a think tank for the USG and beyond)

Measures of Success

Number of credits successfully completed for courses offered completely online; number and percentage of degrees conferred in which at least one course was offered fully online; number of credits successfully completed for courses offered via alternative delivery models (e.g., hybrid instruction, flipped classrooms, and emporium-model instruction).


In addition to supporting major strategic completion initiatives, the Office of Educational Access and Success supported institutional innovation through a small grant program that supported new approaches to specific completion-related challenges at the institution level.  Each grant was intended to support a project that had the potential to be scaled up across multiple institutions, if not across the entire System.  Project awards were up to $25,000, and were distributed across the spectrum of institutions in the System.  Among the projects were experiments in competency-based learning, curricular alignment with K-12 in gateway courses, targeted advising and interventions, new learning models, open educational resources, and data analytics to improve student success. The lessons learned from these projects have provided the foundation for new activities on campuses across the System and represent an uncommon approach to harnessing the capacity of the entire System to improve student outcomes.

Georgia continues to make progress toward its goal of raising educational attainment rates among its working age population.  The pace of degree production has exceeded USG goals over the past several years.  This increase has coincided with record enrollment numbers along with modest gains in retention rates and on-time graduation rates.  As the economy recovers and enrollment declines, however, the System will be challenged to maintain the gains it has made in terms of numbers of degrees awarded annually.  Degree production growth, which was considerable between 2009 and 2011, has declined markedly in recent years, although the absolute number of degrees conferred in 2014 exceeds that from 2009 by nearly 10,000. 

Nonetheless, the work that the University System and its institutions have undertaken in the past year to support student success provides a sound foundation for confidence that the ambitious goals of Complete College Georgia remain realistic. The System wide transformation of Learning Support promises to have a far-ranging impact on students' success in gateway courses and persistence in post-secondary pursuits.  Moreover, the adoption of predictive analytics at a large number of institutions promises to expand opportunities to provide appropriate levels of advising and intervention to keep students on track to graduate.  Table 2 provides an overview of the change the System has made over the past year.

Table 2: System-wide Changes from 2013-2014

Change in number of Students Requiring Learning Support


Change in percentage of Students Requiring Learning Support (%)


Change in One-Year Retention Rates


Change in Number of Degrees Conferred


Change in Degrees Conferred (%)


Change in 6-Year Bachelor's Degree Graduation Rate (%)


Change in 6-Year Bachelor's Degrees


Change in 3-Year Associate's Degree Graduation Rate (%)


Change in 3-Year Associate's Degrees


Change in 4-Year Bachelor Degree's Graduation Rate (%)


Change in 2-Year Associate's Degree Graduation Rate (%)