Georgia State improves graduation rates, student success

Topics: Academic Affairs, Advising, Student Retention and Success, Degree Progress, Early Warning Systems

Ten years ago, Georgia State University’s six-year graduation rates were hovering around 32% and were especially low among student populations with lower incomes. This was concerning news, since from 2007-2012, they experienced a 152% increase in the number of freshman students enrolled with the aid of federal Pell grants.

What's more, the state of Georgia officially signed on with Complete College America, a nonprofit initiative designed to significantly increase the number of college credential holders and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.

Each state-funded institution was forced to implement a plan to measure outcomes and student success. Georgia is also among a number of states who have transitioned to to performance-based funding—so revenues are increasingly tied to success metrics, the number of degrees conferred, and the number of students who reach certain success markers within their college careers.

Georgia State and Vice Provost Tim Renick saw an opportunity to use data to target resources to meet these new initiatives. It began with structured interventions such as summer success academies, course redesign, supplemental instruction, freshmen learning communities, transition advisors, and fee-drop grants. 

Due to these efforts, graduation rates began climbing—especially among low-income student segments. Through its partnership with the Student Success Collaborative in 2012, Georgia State continued this change effort within advising. The platform helped them better leverage data so that they could continue to reduce students' time-to-degree and control costs by graduating students with the minimum number of credits required.

  • Implementing Student Success Collaborative

    Hear Dr. Renick's account of his experience implementing Student Success Collaborative at Georgia State.

Small Tracking Changes Produce Big Success Outcomes

Most institutions find that the bulk of their students fall somewhere in the "murky middle" on the track to graduation—meaning that, unlike obvious risk cases or clear high-achievers, their performance is hard to predict, and it's even harder for their advisors to know how to help them succeed.

Using Student Success Collaborative capabilities, Georgia State implemented significant changes to improve advising and reduce student risk, including:

  • A robust analytics platform based on 10 years of Georgia State's academic data, including more than 2.5 million grades
  • Nightly system updates to keep advisors abreast of critical changes
  • Predictive analytics looking at each student’s likely performance across majors and courses
  • Executive dashboards to identify and drill into the areas of greatest graduation risk within specific colleges and majors

During their first year of the Student Success Collaborative, advisor log-ins have increased exponentially, illustrating their widespread adoption of student and department-wide profiles as tools to help students make better decisions on their path to graduation. As a result, Georgia State successfully intervened with more than 15,000 students using the platform as a basis for conversations.

Georgia State's Experience

Through increased utilization of the SSC platform, advisors are ensuring that more students are meeting key academic milestones and are staying on path to graduation. They’ve seen a 43% decrease in the number of “open alerts” within their system. An open alert indicates a student at-risk of falling off their path to graduation.

In addition, by using the risk algorithm developed for GSU, administrators are able to see that a greater proportion of students are reducing their risk from semester to semester than in previous years as a result of their focused efforts. This type of interim progress tracking allows administrators to have greater insight into the trending of their student population and potential future graduation rates.

Decrease in Student Risk Sets Stage for Increased Graduation Rates

Digging Deeper to Build on Success

As Georgia State’s advisors head into this school year, they’re placing focus on how to improve upon last year’s success. On top of their list of priorities is:

  • Finding new opportunities for interventions across student segments
  • Determining what factors promote improvement on the graduation path
  • Engaging with EAB to further identify academic and financial risk factors
  • Ensuring effective use of advising and supporting resources
  • Promoting greater transparency and visibility into student health across the organization

More on Student Success

Student Success Insight Center

View our collection of key research that highlights how leading institutions are realizing results from retention initiatives through investments and new process implementation. Access insight center.

  • To learn more, contact us

    If you're interested in learning more about the Student Success Collaborative, please contact Allison Gaston-Enholm at