First-Year Experience

The College of Coastal Georgia understands the importance of providing an engaging and enriching experience to all first-year students, and is committed to meeting the students where they are in their development, and to getting them on track to becoming successful college students and successful professionals in their field.

Photo of students smiling

As part of this commitment, the institution has a robust and strategic approach that helps students in the purposeful selection of a clear career path and that provides the framework of support to maintain the student progressing in this path. This approach is called the Momentum Approach and is informed, supported, and aligned with the state-wide initiatives that form part of the Complete College Georgia efforts.

The following paragraphs contain a summary of select elements of the Momentum Approach and are organized chronologically as they impact the first-year experience for all students.

First, the institution recognizes that students are more successful when they start their career by making a purposeful choice of an academic focus area or a program of study, and therefore, it is key to engage the students from the moment they apply to the institution. With the commitment to inform and educate the student through this discernment step in their transition from high school to college, the institution promotes career assessment tools as Focus 2 Apply as early as the recruitment process, and fully engages students by promoting their participation in the full Focus 2 Career assessment starting at orientation. From this structured approach, every student starts their career with a clear path towards graduation (no student is undecided), which not only reduces the potential of unnecessary credit accumulation, but also helps students connect the courses to their career goals and aspirations.

Photo of students in class

Once students have selected an academic focus area or a program of study as part of the application process, this Momentum Approach continues with a three-phase orientation program that 1. helps them affirm their choice, 2. helps students develop a productive academic and growth mindset, 3. presents them with a delineated pathway to graduation that includes a clearly sequenced program maps, 4. educates them on the various support services offered at the institution, 5. presents them with first-year skills needed to be successful in college, and 6. indoctrinates them into the campus academic and social community and culture. The first phase is a one-day orientation program hosted in the summer (also available online), the second phase engages students just prior to the beginning of fall semester classes, and the third phase is a seven- to eight-week workshop series that is accessible through the learning management system. While this is not a concluding element of the Momentum Approach, at the end of this orientation program, students are better equipped to successfully progress through their first academic year, have a better understanding of the campus community and are fully integrated into the Mariner culture.

As students start their first year, they are connected with their Mariner Success Crew, a network of support that includes a Career and Academic Advisor, a Financial Support Advisor, a Tutoring and Academic Support Advisor, and a Campus Life Advisor. This network of faculty/staff are available to assist the student at any point in their college career and are easily accessible through the student portal. The cohesiveness of this delivery of support gives the first-year student a more connected experience and builds the relationships needed to effectively react in the cases where students are experiencing challenges.

The Momentum Approach continues with a series of campaigns that closely monitor the progress of every student through the evaluation at key stages of the term. The first two weeks of the term start with the day-to-day evaluation of student engagement through the participation in the learning management system and conclude with the attendance verification process. Next, during the fourth week of the term, faculty identify any students who may be at risk through the Early Alert Report, and the initiation of the Always Alert Referrals, a system that allows faculty to bring attention to students who may be at risk at any point in the semester. These campaigns constitute fundamental elements of the first-year student experience as any indication of concern is followed by a protocol of action that typically involves communication to the student from the faculty and staff from the Mariner Success Crew, but may also include, when applicable, staff from Athletics, the Behavioral Intervention Team, and staff from the residence halls.

Through the Momentum Approach campaigns, the institution also evaluates the rate at which students are accumulating credits, and promotes enrollment in 15 credits per semester to accelerate progression improve academic achievement and reduce cost to students. At the midpoint of the term, a campaign also evaluates the academic standing and the midterm grades for every student, and initiates another protocol of action with the goal of bringing students back on track academically.

Finally, through registration campaigns, the institution monitors the progress of every student, and in particular, first-year students are monitored to promote the completion of 30 credits at the end of the year by promoting participation in summer classes if needed.

Photo of professor and students in class

The elements presented above are the complement of the rich academic experience that all students receive in the classroom where, from the first year, students start engaging in courses in their area of study; this early engagement exemplifies the institution’s mission where through excellence in scholarship and community engagement, students are prepared for meaningful careers, advanced study, lifelong learning, and participation in a global and technological society.

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