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How UNG will expand services to integrate freshmen, new students with federal grant
UNG students
University of North Georgia students make their way across the Gainesville campus between classes Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018. - photo by Scott Rogers

The University of North Georgia has received a $2.1 million federal grant to establish a new program meant to build on the success of orientation, Weeks of Welcome and academic advising programs for incoming students.

UNG plans to establish a Success Oriented Academic Reform program on all five campuses with this funding.

“This grant will allow UNG to design a holistic approach of engaging students in their first year by helping them with their academics and adjustments to the college experience,” Carol Adams, associate vice president and dean of University College, said in a press release.

SOAR aims to achieve four goals:

Increase student engagement from 74 percent to 84 percent

Increase first-to-second-year retention from 71 percent to 83 percent

Decrease changes in major fields of study from 55 percent to 45 percent

Increase second-to-third-year retention from 51 percent to 66 percent

UNG plans to expand the number of professional academic advisers and hire academic success coaches to meet these goals.

The SOAR program’s implementation is scheduled for spring 2019.

UNG officials said SOAR dovetails nicely with Momentum Year, which UNG will launch in the 2019 fall semester.

Momentum Year aims to give freshmen an early taste of their chosen degree path.

In Georgia’s public colleges and universities, 42 percent of full-time bachelor’s degree students will not graduate within six years, according to a recent report from the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute. And about 15 percent of freshmen do not return for their sophomore year.

The momentum year, which is tailored to the needs of each institution and its student demographics, includes having freshmen select a “meta-major,” such as in the social or health sciences, for nine credit hours.