After his grandmother passed away when he was just 16, Hodges, now 19, and his twin brother have been on their own.
Nathaniel Hodges, who is now living in GSU’s Freshman Hall, is part of the first cohort of new Panthers in the Success Academy Program, which provides first-year-students an early start to taking core classes, living on campus and making new friends.
“I came from a very impoverished situation and the opportunity to come here took me out of that,” said Hodges, who graduated from Alcovy High School. “I’m just generally happy. This is one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my life.”
Nia Haydel, assistant director for first-year programs, says that the academy will help the many students who quit or fail because they don’t get off to a strong start.
“We’re excited to create an opportunity for students to enter Georgia State early and begin to learn how to successfully navigate through this new environment and the new expectations associated with college life,” she said.
Hodges plans to major in physics with a minor in business at GSU. He also has dreams of pursuing studies in engineering after he finishes his bachelor’s degree.
While taking part in the Success Academy, students will be taught to build their academic and study skills as they take six or seven credit hours this summer before taking a full load in the fall and spring semesters. Some of the students mentioned they are working extra hard in their courses to make sure they are eligible for the HOPE Scholarship after the spring semester.
Fabrae Hellams, 18, said she has already learned a lot about how much responsibility it takes to be successful in college. This summer she is taking American Government, English 1101 and GSU 1010, a course that provides students with essential information about the academic demands of the university, its rules, procedures, resources, and academic, social and personal “survival skills” that contribute to academic success.
“It’s certainly a reality check. I didn’t think it was going to be as much responsibility on me, but I’m taking advantage of it,” said Hellams, who plans to major in telecommunications.
Hellams, a Loganville High School graduate, said one of the best parts of the program is participating in the Freshmen Learning Communities, where groups of students move through class sections together.
“I love the FLCs. We have already made really lasting friendships and it’s just awesome,” she said. “I highly recommend this program. It’s a lot of fun if you want the social aspect of college and the academic aspect as well.”
Haydel said The Success Academy consist of programs, activities and services that work together to help students better handle the adjustment to college coursework, independent living and handling the cost of tuition and fees. Beyond getting tutoring and mentoring, students will receive individualized guidance and support from the Financial Aid Office, the Student Advisement Center and the Scholarship Resource Center. They will also be assisted in developing individualized study plans.
Other benefits of the Success Academy include an overnight leadership retreat, civic engagement opportunities and a host of academic workshops that students will attend focused on “developing skills on time management,” “financial management,” “conducting research” and “interacting with college professors.”
“Where some students come to campus and just try to figure it out on their own, students who attend these type of programs tend to seek out resources in a more directed manner,” Haydel said. “We will also provide experiences that will allow them to learn more about themselves and to begin developing great leadership skills.”