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Students to Help Georgia’s Efforts to Increase College Completion

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Atlanta — March 16, 2012

The real work to increase the number of Georgians completing some level of college begins Monday, March 19, with the voices of students. Twenty students enrolled in either the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) or the University System of Georgia (USG) will let educators know exactly what has worked, and what hasn’t, in terms of their college experience.

The students kick off the “Completion Summit,” a two-day event at the University of Georgia Conference Center in Athens that will involve teams from 60 colleges and universities in the TCSG and USG who have been given the task of developing plans to increase college completion at their institution.

The plans are needed to drive efforts under Gov. Nathan Deal’s Complete College Georgia initiative to increase the numbers of Georgians completing college by 250,000 – above current graduation rates – by 2020. A number of studies indicate this is the target needed for Georgia to meet projected workforce needs.

“This is where the real work to meet our ambitious goals begins,” said Dr. David Morgan, interim chief academic officer for the USG. “Hearing directly from students is the best starting point for our planning as we devise strategies to help them succeed.”

Morgan also noted that the conference continues a conscious effort to bring both the state’s public higher education systems together to discuss what needs to be done and work together. “Both systems are serious about better coordinating our efforts with the focus on student success,” he said.

TCSG Deputy Commissioner Josephine Reed-Taylor said, “Our goal is to create campus-focused strategies that will enhance student opportunities for timely college completion. We want to build success by incorporating fresh ideas and best practices with the ongoing good work across many of our colleges.”

In addition to the students, conference participants will hear from Stan Jones, president of Complete College America, the national effort under which Georgia’s work is being conducted, as well as Dr. Uri Treisman, professor of mathematics and of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. Treisman is nationally recognized for his research into what higher education must do to help students who enroll in college requiring remedial courses in basic subjects. Such students typically fair poorly in terms of college completion.

The Completion Summit is more than passive listening to speakers, Morgan said: “The real heart of the summit are four working sessions for the campus teams.” While the thoughts and ideas expressed in the session are still fresh, the teams will begin to construct their institution’s completion plans, which will then be taken and shared at each campus for further work and final approval.

At the summit, the teams also will hear what are the next steps in the Complete College Georgia effort and learn about a new virtual platform called the USG Completion Lab. This is an open source platform for blogging, a discussion forum, an idea pipeline, and a resource library. All individual campus plans must be submitted to the Gov.’s office by September 1.

The USG Completion Summit agenda can be found here: http://www.usg.edu/images/news_files/CompleteCollegeSummitAgenda.pdf.

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