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Academic success program highlighted during regional conference

ISSUED: 11 April 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — A Shepherd University program that helps at-risk first-time-in-college freshmen succeed was the topic of a presentation at the Region 3 NACADA Global Community for Academic Advising conference March 18-20 in Charleston. Emily Gross, director of academic support, and Christina Reich, academic advisor in the Advising Assistance Center, gave the presentation, titled “Bridge to Success: Academic Intervention Program for At-Risk Freshmen.” Region 3 includes West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

In the nine years she’s worked at Shepherd, Gross, who said she is passionate about her role as an academic advisor, has reshaped several probation and suspension policies in an effort to enhance student success. She has developed an initiative that helps prevent freshmen in the program from earning probation during their first semester by resolving issues impeding their academic success.

“When college freshmen are struggling, it’s important to give them the support and motivation they need to improve their GPA,” Gross said. “Sometimes this motivation comes in form of a reality check from an advisor. The Bridge to Success program identifies freshmen at a critical time when improving their first GPA outcome is still viable. Through advising intervention methods, we are able to proactively engage with struggling students and assist with improving their GPA to prevent academic probation within their first semester.”

Working with Reich, Gross piloted the program in fall 2018 by offering academic advising that is tailored to address the needs of each student. During the pilot program, Bridge to Success helped 36 first-time incoming freshmen by offering motivation and help with study habits and extra advising support. On average, the students’ GPAs went from 1.74 at midterm to 2.08 by end of semester and 61 percent avoided going on academic probation.

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