Tech Retention Program Receives National Honors

Georgia Tech's Challenge Program is one of four college retention programs to receive the 2004 Lee Noel and Randi Levitz Retention Excellence Award.

"The honor is a reaffirmation of what we do and a recognition that we play a critical role in the lives of our students," said S. Gordon Moore, director of Georgia Tech's OMED Educational Services, which runs the Challenge Program.

The award is given by Noel-Levitz, a higher education consulting firm, and is being presented at this year's National Conference on Student Retention this week in New Orleans.

"These programs exemplify what colleges and universities can do in terms of helping students make the most of their college experience," said Teresa Farnum, Noel-Levitz vice president of retention services. "The four institutions honored this year have created programs that foster student achievement and put men and women on the right path to success."

Georgia Tech's Challenge Program is an intensive five-week program held each summer
for incoming Georgia Tech freshmen. Students take core courses that simulate a typical student's freshman year, live in campus residence halls, and make social and academic preparations for the transition to college. The program is open to all students, but is targeted to helping minority students adjust to college life.

The courses students take in Challenge don't count toward a student's degree, but that doesn't mean participants don't take them seriously, said Moore.

"Students who have a 4.0 grade-point average (GPA) at the end of the program receive their entire $500 tuition payment back," explained Moore. Those who end up with a 3.5 GPA get $350 back, while those who finish with a 3.0 GPA get $150 back.

Minority students are often only the second generation in their family to go to college, while science and engineering majors are often the first in their family to study those fields, said Moore. "Challenge gives them a preview of what life at Georgia Tech will be like, so they can have a chance to adjust before classes start counting toward their degree," he said.

Other programs honored by Noel-Levitz this year include Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Academic Advising and Outreach Center; State University of New York at New Paltz, EOP Freshman Year Experience; and University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Strategies for Academic Success.