“It has never been more important for Georgia to build a world-class workforce ready to take on the jobs of the 21st century,” Kemp said. “Hardworking Georgians who finish a post-secondary education allow us to do just that.”
Graduates wait to take their seats at the 132nd Spelman College commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 19, 2019, at the Georgia International Convention Center. (Photo: ELIJAH NOUVELAGE/SPECIAL TO THE AJC)
About 60% of Georgia’s college students are enrolled in the University System of Georgia, which has a six-year completion rate of nearly 62%. University System officials attribute the increase in graduation rates to recent initiatives such as “Momentum Year,” which requires first-year students to take core math and English courses. Students who are unprepared for those college-level courses are directed to remedial math and English classes, which the system says has helped their academic performance.
Augusta and Columbus State universities each had double-digit percentage increases in graduation rates in the last five years, state data shows. Georgia Tech has the highest graduation rate, 90%, with the University of Georgia just one percentage point behind.
University System officials said in a statement they are working on additional efforts to improve the numbers. The system recently completed a draft report of changes to its core curriculum that aim to improve student oral and written communication skills and their mastery of data.
“This increase could not have happened without a laser focus on finding ways to enable more students to earn college credentials of value,” said Tristan Denley, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. “But we are certainly not resting on our laurels, as we are continuing to develop and implement innovations to build on these improvements to student success and keep the momentum growing.”
Georgia’s numbers were also boosted by several private colleges and universities. Emory University, the state’s largest private institution, has a six-year graduation rate of about 90%, federal data shows. Spelman College’s graduation rate, about 75%, is the highest of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities.