Georgia Tech’s strategic plan confirms our aspiration to be an Institute that pursues excellence and embraces diversity in all its forms. A high priority for our CCG plan involves outreach and programming for underrepresented minority students, who have frequently experienced lower retention and graduation rates than their Asian and White counterparts. To encourage academic excellence, the Office of Minority Education: Educational Services (OMED) provides programming specifically targeted to underrepresented minorities.
With a key role in the Institute’s Center for Student Diversity and Inclusion (CSDI), OMED provides a range of services designed to promote the success of underserved minorities. Challenge is a five-week, intensive residential summer bridge program for incoming freshmen designed to prepare students for the Georgia Tech experience. The Edge Program pairs highly engaged students with incoming students and transfer underrepresented minority students in order to assist them both academically and socially throughout their first year at Georgia Tech. OMED also offers workshops, study groups, tutoring, and Concept Classes—topic-specific lectures that deal with course material historically found to be the most challenging. The African-American Male Initiative (AAMI) helps to address a negative performance trend in the African-American male population. AAMI is the first-ever statewide effort specifically focused on increasing post-secondary education attainment among Black males. AAMI students participate in monthly workshops and are paired with faculty, staff, or alumni mentors.
Metrics we are using to assess the success of this strategy include:
Average GPA of Edge Program participants compared to the average GPA of non-participating matched peers at the end of the first year.
Average GPA of the Challenge summer bridge program participants compared to the average GPA of non-participating matched peers at the end of the first semester.
· First-semester average GPA and first-to-second-year retention rate of AAMI participants compared to non-participating matched peers.
· Retention and graduation rates for underrepresented minorities at Georgia Tech compared with overall campus rates.
A measure of progress is for program participants to academically outperform matched non-participating peers. Our ultimate goal is for our underrepresented students to attain or exceed the retention and graduation rates of the overall student population.
In looking at outcomes, results for the past year were mostly positive. For the 265 URM students participating in the Edge Program (peer mentoring), the average cumulative GPA achieved at the end of the first year was 3.18 compared to 3.13 for URM non-participants. For Challenge (70 participants), average GPA’s were higher for African-American/Black students and Hispanic students compared to GPA’s of non-participating matched peers. Moreover, 13 of 70 Challenge participants completed their first semester with a 4.0 GPA and 51 of 70 participants had a 3.0 or higher GPA at the end of their first semester. AAMI students had an average first-semester GPA of 3.24 compared to a 2.95 GPA for non-participating African-American males. However, when we look at first-to-second year retention for AAMI students, 94% were retained to the second year compared to an overall first-to-second-year campus retention rate of 97% and a 98% rate for non-participating matched peers. See Appendix F for more information about Challenge and AAMI outcomes.
For the fall 2009 cohort, overall URM first-to-second-year retention reached 96% and the six-year URM graduation rate reached 80%--both historic highs for Georgia Tech. URM graduation rates have improved dramatically over the past five years (from 69% for the fall 2005 cohort to 80% for the fall 2009 cohort). As of fall 2015, graduation rates had improved for every demographic. If we look at our two largest URM groups—Black or African-American and Hispanic or Latino—we observe that for these students the six-year graduation rates for the fall 2009 cohort were 78% for Black or African-American students and 85% for Hispanic or Latino students compared to 85% for the overall campus population. While the graduation rate was lower for Black or African-American students, this population demonstrated the strongest rate of improvement over the past five years. Please see Appendix G for URM graduation rates.