Signs that the rate of Freshmen Survival is increasing

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Freshmen Survival Kit

Freshman survival is a big issue and tradition at Georgia Tech. As one of the nation's top research universities, Georgia Tech has many good aspects, but because of its notable ranking, difficult courses, and tough professors it has a low retention rate. The freshman retention rate is very low, and many students have a tough time graduating. Graduating and keep grades high are two of the problems many Tech students face. The other part is physically surviving the sketchy area of Midtown Atlanta. The Georgia Tech campus is located in the heart of Atlanta, where crimes and felonies are sometimes committed. Many areas around Tech are unsafe for students to wander in which makes the freshmen experience difficult to adapt. In addition to the hassles of the outside world, avoiding the pranks and hazing of the upperclassmen is yet another challenge the freshmen have to overcome to survive Georgia Tech. As a result, the administrators and staff of Georgia Tech have implemented a series of programs to improve the freshmen survival rate.

Contents

Origins

Since the late 1900’s, boosting the freshman retention has become a large tradition of Tech.[citation needed] This tradition started when the Dean of Students of Georgia Tech decided that the 67% retention rate of Georgia Tech freshmen was no longer acceptable.[citation needed] Programs such as RATS week and FASET were put into motion in an effort to boost the retention rate of the undergraduate program at Georgia Tech. These programs help freshmen familiarize themselves with the Georgia Tech environment. These programs have also eased the stress freshmen feel by introducing a more peaceful and calmer environment to study and work in. As evidence of their impact, the freshmen retention rate has risen to the low to mid 80’s and the graduation rate has risen to the upper 70’s. Later on additional programs, such as upper classmen peer leaders and tutoring services were implemented.[citation needed] Through the implementation of these programs, the retention rate has slowly climbed to the lower 90’s and the graduation rate is higher than in previous years.

Issues with Freshman Survival

Freshmen at Georgia Tech have many challenges ahead of them. From the unfamiliarity of the campus to the difficulty of the course work, Georgia Tech is a completely new experience. Aside from the typical freshmen challenges, Georgia Tech has a few challenges of its own. From the low freshman retention rate to the high crime rate of its surroundings, Georgia Tech is one college that is tough on its incoming classes.

Two-Thirds Retention Rate

During the mid 1900’s the freshman retention rate was considerably low. It generally hovered around 66.67% for an average year and would hit 70% for good years.[citation needed] The retention rate was not because Georgia Tech was a bad school or had bad professors, but rather because it was a research school, whose notable profile demanded tough coursework. Freshmen, who had just graduated from high school, found this course work very intimidating and many failed to survive the work load that they were forced to endure. As a tradition, the dean of students used to say “look to your right, look to your left. Of the three of you, one will fail.” Although slightly overstated, it was not too far from the truth. Almost 30% of students would either fail out or transfer to a different school by the end of their freshmen year. The statistics from http://www.irp.gatech.edu/sites/www.irp.gatech.edu/files/FTF.pdf show clear signs of this low retention rate, which often also resulted with a low graduation rate.[citation needed]

Dangers of Midtown Atlanta

Although grades tended to be the greatest of the students troubles, it wasn’t their only concern. Known for its crime and homelessness, Atlanta wasn’t the safest city for college students. Students had to be cautious at all times and were urged to walk in groups at night. During the school year, students were told not to wander outside of campus if the matter was not urgent and to be careful of who enters their dorms. Police patrol the campus continuously throughout the night and kick out homeless during the day. The new experience of college life separated freshman from the safety of their homes and exposed them to the dark Atlanta surroundings. This danger prevented freshmen from doing many late-night activities such as walking back to their dorms or going to the library. These inconveniences further challenged freshman survival.

Hazing and Dealing with Upper Classmen

In life, the strong have a tendency to bully the weak. At Tech, the upperclassmen usually haze the freshmen. Hazing occurs when upperclassmen have freshmen do a variety of things which result in either humiliation or harassment. Hazing usually occurs during the initiation of a freshman pledge into a fraternity. In order for freshmen to get into fraternities, they are subjected to hazing by the upper classmen. [1] Aside from dealing with hazing, freshmen also have to deal with a series of pranks pulled by upper classmen. With the rigorous coursework, enormous amount of homework, dangers of the surroundings, and hazing by the upperclassmen, Georgia Tech is sometimes too hard to handle.[2]

Techniques Implemented Over the Years to Improve Freshman Survival

Studies Conducted by the Dean of Students demonstrate the low retention rates of the Georgia Tech student body[3]. To improve the freshman retention rate, the Dean of Students, along with the Board of Directors, started implementing a series of programs such as FASET, RATS week, and OMED student tutoring services. Along with the implementation of assistance programs, the Georgia Tech board also hired more police officers to help patrol the campus at night in order to increase the safety of the students. Lastly hazing was eventually reduced by requiring fraternities to pledge that they are against hazing and pranks.[4]

FASET

FASET stands for “Familiarization and Adaptation to the Surroundings and Environs of Tech.” FASET is one of the many programs implemented by the Dean of Students to assist incoming freshmen with their transition into the Georgia Tech community. Freshmen in FASET have the opportunity to take a tour of the Georgia Tech campus, get to know their advisors, and sign up for classes [5]. This experience is one of the many techniques that Georgia Tech uses to increase the freshman retention rate.

Freshman Experience

About 90% of freshmen participate in the freshman experience program. The Freshman experience is a program where freshmen live and eat together. Tutoring is offered from the Office of Minority Education and Development (OMED) on the bottom floors of the FE dorms and Peer Leaders act as big brothers to help guide the new freshmen.[6] This program is used to assist freshmen with their first year of college by acclimating them to college life. The OMED tutoring service provides assistance for the freshman core classes. [7]

Safety and the Prevention of Hazing

Georgia Tech, in the recent years, has been increasing the number of police officers on campus. The increase in law enforcement has allowed for better patrolling the grounds and provides enhanced protection for Georgia Tech students. This lessens the fear felt by Georgia Tech students when they walk home from the library or when they are outside during late hours. In addition to the safety efforts, the anti-hazing pledge signed by fraternities has shown a gradual decreasing in hazing. [8]

Signs of Increasing Freshman Survival

According to a 2009 survey conducted by the Office of Institutional Research and Planning, the implementation of these programs has shown a gradual improvement in the freshman survival rate. The survey showed signs of decreased hazing and an increased number of succeeding freshmen. In the Technique, the “Freshmen Survival Guide” provided safety policies and techniques that could be used to survive at Georgia Tech along with a series of Tech traditions[9]. With the new living system for freshmen, it seemed as freshmen were easily integrating into Tech traditions and culture. In a 2006 issue of the Technique, there was another “Freshman Survival Guide” issued to assist the incoming freshmen with their lives at Georgia Tech. This guide continued the Georgia Tech tradition of increasing the survival of incoming freshmen[10]. Over time, Tech's 2/3 policy began disappearing due to higher retention and graduating rates. With the safer and more friendly environment, students have begun to improve in and out of class. Tech’s tradition of increasing freshman survival has evolved with time.

The Issue and Importance of Freshman Survival

Freshman survival has been a big issue throughout the history of Georgia Tech. The Board of Directors often has been concerned with the tendency of the freshman retention rate to be lower than that of other universities. Over time, Georgia Tech's efforts have slowly increased both the retention and graduation rates. The freshman success rate is of particular importance because of its long term implications on student success. This increase will not only benefit Georgia Tech, but it will also benefit the community as a whole. After surviving Georgia Tech, students will be able to use their skills and abilities to benefit the world. Many Georgia Tech Alumni are currently employed by Fortune 500 companies [11]. This fact demonstrates that the tradition of increasing freshman survival has resulted in the better preparation of Tech graduates. Through many years of implementing programs, Georgia Tech has finally increased their freshmen survival rate to the low 90’s, an all-time high.

References

  1. The Technique Oct 20 2000 Volume 86 ed., Issue 13 sec.: 1. Print. http://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/1853/7835/10/news-2000-10-20.pdf.txt
  2. The Technique http://buzzpedia.lcc.gatech.edu/wiki/index.php/Source_Summary:Frosh,_Beware!_Observe_Traditions_(Technique:_Volume_27,_Issue_01)
  3. http://www.irp.gatech.edu/sites/www.irp.gatech.edu/files/FTF.pdf
  4. Remarks by President Wayne Clough, Speech Delivered to the Greek Alumni Forum: http://buzzpedia.lcc.gatech.edu/wiki/index.php/Source_Summary:_Remarks_by_President_Wayne_Clough
  5. FASET website http://successprograms.gatech.edu/faset/index.php
  6. The Technique Volume 48 issue 5 http://buzzpedia.lcc.gatech.edu/wiki/index.php/Source_Summary:_Dormitories_Provide_Fulfillment_Freshmen,_Upperclassmen_Needs
  7. Georgia tech housing website http://www.housing.gatech.edu/freshmanexperience/index.cfm
  8. Georgia Tech greek affairs webpage http://www.greek.gatech.edu/plugins/faq/
  9. The Technique volume 96 issue 5 http://buzzpedia.lcc.gatech.edu/wiki/index.php/Source_Summary:_Freshman_Survival_Guide_(Technique:_Volume_96,_Issue_5)
  10. The Technique Issue 2006 http://smartech.gatech.edu/bitstream/1853/11666/1/freshman_survival_guide-2006-08-25.pdf
  11. Alumni Records http://www.cc.gatech.edu/student.services/phd/graduates.html

Source Summary

topic claimed by David Hou, Section G2

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