November 26, 2018

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Kimberly Cannon, Graduate Assistant

VSU Focuses on Increasing Retention, Graduation Rates

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University is focused on getting more students from admission to degree completion by means of a Momentum Year.
Momentum Year focuses on encouraging first-year students to start their college career with a purposeful choice in a focus area or major, enter with a growth mindset, and follow a clearly sequenced program map. This initiative is part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s Complete College Georgia, an effort to increase the number of Georgians earning a college degree.
VSU has already begun implementing the elements of Momentum Year.
“The first year of college is a powerful indicator for success in the student’s future years,” said Dr. Rodney Carr, vice president of student success at VSU. “By establishing the research-based high impact practices in this transition year, VSU plans to make intentional decisions to benefit our students’ success toward degree completion.”
Carr said first-year college students face an academically and socially challenging environment. He explained that Momentum Year at VSU would address these challenges for new students.
 “Academically, the student will have a clear program pathway to completion of the degree, a schedule that can meet those pathway requirements, experiential learning opportunities, and the support services to assist in meeting the rigor of the university,” he said. “Socially, the student will become a member of the Blazer family through interaction outside of the classroom with the various aspects of our campus community and the regional community that we serve.”
The Momentum Year program map includes 30 credit hours during a student’s first year.
Dr. Tristan Denley, University System of Georgia executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said the number of credit hours new students take during the first year impacts student success rates. He said data collected shows that students who attempt 30 credit hours their first year—15 hours in the fall and 15 hours in the spring—increase their likelihood to graduate by 20 percent compared to students who attempt only 24 credit hours their first year.
Nine of the 30 credit hours attempted during a student’s first year should be in his or her chosen major or focus area. The first year should also include a core math and English course as part of the Momentum Year program map.
Focus areas are intended to aid new students in making a choice based on their interests and skills.
Focus areas include business; education; social sciences; health professions; science, technology, engineering, and math; humanities; applied technology; and arts. They are designed to help narrow course options to a manageable level for those who have not yet chosen a major. Courses in these focus areas are broadly applicable across a wide range of majors, helping students avoid unnecessary credits as they narrow their program choice.
“The idea of the Momentum Year is to give our new students a great start to their studies,” said Dr. Robert Smith, provost and vice president of academic affairs at VSU. “We expect that these efforts will result in higher retention from first to second year, as well as improved graduation rates.”