CLARKSTON, Ga.–Perimeter Academy, a student success program at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College, is expanding.
Beginning June 10, the academy, which gives new students an early boost toward a successful college career, will be offered on Georgia State’s Clarkston and Dunwoody campuses, as well as at its original Decatur Campus location.
Introduced in 2017 as part of Georgia State’s Learning, Income and Family Transformation (LIFT) initiative, Perimeter Academy is a three-semester, extended-learning community packed with support services to help new students succeed in their first year of college.
Students accepted to Perimeter Academy begin in the summer to get a head start on their academic journey, said Amanda Emery, Perimeter Academy project director. They receive access to free workshops on financial planning, individualized study skills, academic coaching and peer mentoring, as well as leadership retreats and service opportunities.
Students enrolled in Perimeter Academy on the Decatur Campus also may apply to become a State Farm Scholar, which would cover the cost of their tuition.
Twenty students from the original 2017 group of 36 Perimeter Academy students graduated with their associate degree in May. Ten of the remaining students are expected to graduate in summer, and six students are slated for fall graduation, Emery said.
“We’re very excited about adding Clarkston and Dunwoody (campuses) this year, in addition to being in Decatur,” she said. “We anticipate enrolling 50 students each at both Dunwoody and Clarkston and have a goal of enrolling 125 students at Decatur Campus.”
The program has grown significantly since its beginning: 80 students enrolled in the summer of 2018 and completed the three-semester program this spring with an average grade point average of 2.84, she said. It also has evolved to meet student needs and remove barriers to student success.
“Last year, we found out that at least 30 to 50 percent of those enrolled in Perimeter Academy could not afford books for their classes,” Emery said. “I was able to get a LIFT grant to buy books. Now, students can check out the books for up to two hours at a time. Because of this, we will now also have course book libraries available for Perimeter Academy students on the Clarkston and Dunwoody campuses.”
Funded in part with a $14.5 million gift to Georgia State University from State Farm, the LIFT program was created to help students and their families in south DeKalb communities, and the grant will be extended to the other campuses, Emery said. LIFT uses the university’s pioneering data analytics model to help students enrolled in two-year college degree programs.
For Redan High School graduate James Denson, the Perimeter Academy experience made a difference in his academic success.
“A lot of people didn’t want to take a chance on the two-year side of Perimeter College, but after following the program, I’m one of a few people from my high school class to obtain a degree,” Denson said. “I got to expand my network and meet a lot of people who helped me find opportunities and put me in a position to be successful.”
He will attend Georgia State’s Atlanta Campus this fall to study exercise science.
Denson’s experience illustrates the success of Perimeter Academy, said Eric Cuevas, Georgia State’s director of student success.
“In partnership with our faculty and staff,” he said, “we have seen increased rates of retention and graduation because of the innovative and exciting programs like Perimeter Academy and the passionate faculty at Perimeter College. We are helping more students fulfill their educational goals.”