First-Year Experience
Georgia Southern University

University Picked to Participate in National Higher Education Project

Georgia Southern University is one of 13 institutions in the United States that has been selected to participate in a national project that will study how well each institution recruits, supports and teaches first-year students.

The Foundations of Excellence in the First College Year Project is used by colleges and universities to develop and refine their overall approach to educating new students.

Sponsored by the Policy Center on the First Year of College, which is based in Brevard, N.C., the project is supported by the Lumina Foundation for Education, a national philanthropic organization located in Indianapolis.

In a process that began in 2003, more than 200 four-year colleges and universities across the country have participated in developing the standards that form the core of the Foundations of Excellence project. However, only 13 of those institutions are members of the Inaugural National Select Cohort, which will work with the Policy Center and its research partner, Educational Benchmarking Inc., during this academic year.

The criteria for inclusion in the cohort included a strong campus commitment to students and readiness to engage in evaluation and improvement.

“Providing a high-quality experience for students in their first year is essential to achieving our goal of national distinction,” said Linda Bleicken, the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Georgia Southern. “We look forward to participating in the self-study process and to implementing changes designed to engage students more effectively in the life of the University.”

Because research has long indicated that new students who are successfully integrated into college are much more likely to succeed, many institutions work hard to create a quality experience for first-year students.

According to John N. Gardner, the executive director of the Policy Center, attention to the first year carries the double benefit of helping students meet their educational goals while helping colleges and universities retain students through graduation.

The members of the Inaugural National Select Cohort will measure their effectiveness in recruiting, admitting, orienting, supporting, advising and teaching new students. Each institution will then be able to make programmatic improvements that will increase student learning, success and persistence.

“The blueprint represents a holistic examination of the many elements that get students off to the right start,” said Chris Caplinger, the interim director of the First-Year Experience at Georgia Southern.

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Last updated: 10/30/2015

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