GSC Ranked No. 1 in State for Momentum Year

GSC President Dr. Kirk A. Nooks addressed the Board of Regents of the USG in a meeting September 11 in Atlanta for a campus spotlight.
GSC President Dr. Kirk A. Nooks addressed the Board of Regents of the USG in a meeting September 11 in Atlanta for a campus spotlight.

GSC Ranked No. 1 in State for Momentum Year

Gordon State College led among state colleges and ranked third in the system overall last year in percentage of first year students taking 15 or more credits in fall semester, according to a University System of Georgia report.

Taking 15 or more credits in the fall semester is one of the three key elements that create a Momentum Year for students. Evidence-based research confirms that college students are most successful when they make a purposeful choice of a major or academic focus area at the very start of their college career; enter with a productive academic mindset and follow a clearly-sequenced pathway that include core English and Math classes in their first year, nine credits in their academic focus area and 30 credits in the first year.

The Momentum Year is a starting point that helps students find their path, get on that path and build velocity in the direction of their goals. It also aligns with GSC’s Strategic Plan.

GSC President Dr. Kirk A. Nooks addressed the Board of Regents of the USG in a meeting Tuesday, September 11 in Atlanta for a campus spotlight.

“The Momentum Year and I arrived at Gordon State College at about the same time,” Nooks said. “As a new president, it offered a golden opportunity to reshape the culture and focus of our institution, and I’m pleased to say that on our campus, we’ve taken these changes to heart. That good work continues not only on our campus, but throughout the entire system.”

New Student Orientation is one of the ways students at Gordon State are introduced to the immediate impact of their Momentum Year. The orientation program reinforces the need for purposeful choices and the development of important academic skills.

“Already we’re seeing increased retention of students who participated,” Nooks stated.

By having advising staff build schedules after each orientation, GSC increased the percentage of first-year students enrolled in 15 or more hours—including core curriculum English and math—from 30.6 percent in Fall 2017 to 61.06 percent in Fall 2018, which, set the student up to complete 30 hours by the end of the Spring 2019 semester and connect to campus resources. The Momentum Year process establishes a first-year foundation, which results in a plan for successful degree completion and on-time graduation.

Another critical component to GSC’s Momentum Year is the redesigned First Year Experience, FIRE 1000 Freshman Introduction to Reasoning Essentials course, which is a two-credit core curriculum class that fosters productive academic mindsets, helps establish critical thinking skills and supports students as they encounter challenges associated with a transition to college-level work. It has proven to be beneficial for those who may be the first in their family ever to attend one college.

This broader effort of the Momentum Year approach was first introduced to the board almost two years ago by USG’s Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Tristan Denley. After an 18-month development period on this novel approach, all incoming students, roughly 54,000 across the state, across all USG campuses are experiencing a Momentum Year to get them off to a strong start.