Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) is now offering face-to-face orientations at all six campus locations to help students better prepare for their academic careers by becoming more familiar with campus resources and meeting with their advisors to receive guidance while registering for classes.
The face-to-face orientations are required for new students and returning students that have not attended GNTC for a year or more. Traditionally, GNTC only offered online orientations and the face-to-face orientations were implemented this academic year as a way to ease students’ transition into college.
“We are trying to arm them with the tools to be successful students when they start,” said Jan Lanier, director of retention and student navigator at GNTC. “This includes showing them how to get into their gntc.edu email account, going online to check financial aid, and how online classes work.”
Not only has the face-to-face orientations helped students to become more familiar with campus services; it also helps students to get acquainted with college life, meet each other, and learn about clubs and organizations.
“The students are just better prepared in every way,” said Lanier. “The feedback we are getting from instructors is that they no longer have to spend time informing students of campus resources during the first days of class.”
The new face-to-face orientations are part of GNTC’s commitment to student success and completion as part of the Achieving the Dream (ATD) National Reform Network. GNTC became part of the network in 2014 and began identifying and implementing evidence-based strategies for closing achievement gaps and increasing student retention, persistence, and completion rates.
“We had committees and focus groups with Achieving the Dream and what came out of these meetings is that we need to take a closer look at our student orientation,” said Lanier. “That would be the best way to give our students the information they need to get started and be more successful.”
Each college in the ATD network commits to the Achieving the Dream Student-Centered Model of Institutional Improvement. Based on four principles, the Model frames the overall work of helping more students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Each college will approach the work differently, but Achieving the Dream’s five-step process will provide practical guidelines for helping keep the focus where it belongs and building momentum over time. Throughout the process, ATD coaches offer customized support and help each college’s core team implement data-informed programs and policies that build long-term, institution-wide commitment to student success.
Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit leading the nation’s most comprehensive nongovernmental reform network for student success in higher education history. The Achieving the Dream National Reform Network, including over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams – working throughout 34 states and the District of Columbia – helps nearly 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.
Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of Northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma, or a certificate in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 13,734 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,876 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 5,858 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.