Dedicated to Student Achievement: Dalton State Uses Grant to Expand Programs


Note: This file photo was taken prior to the pandemic.

Peyton Gooberlert aspires to work for the Federal Bureau of Investigation one day, but after a tough start to her college career, she questioned her ability to achieve it.

“I was at a low point,” said the criminal justice major at Dalton State College. “My mom suggested tutoring. I was iffy about it, but then I met Grace Neff, who tutored me in math, and everything changed. I have now used Dalton State’s tutoring three semesters, and I feel like I can graduate. The tutors are there to help, and I’ve made some really good friends through tutoring.”

Gooberlert found not only the academic help she needed to be a successful student, but a support system.

Tutoring and Supplemental Instruction is available to any student enrolled at the college, and students are helped by their peers. It is one of the services Dalton State provides to help students succeed.

Tutoring and Supplemental Instruction received funds last year from a federal Title V grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand the program by adding more tutors and software to allow for distance learning. There is also a new high-tech classroom being planned to assist peer tutors.

Dalton State was eligible to apply for the grant because of its status as a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). A college earns HSI status when at least 25 percent of the student population identifies as Hispanic, a designation received by Dalton State in the spring of 2018.

The $2.1 million grant was implemented in October 2019 and is a five-year grant that focuses on improving services to help students succeed and achieve their full potential, said Dr. Jodi Johnson, vice president of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services.

“By concentrating on three key strategies – establishing a comprehensive advising program; expanding tutoring and supplemental instructional programs; and improving technology for advising and student support – the Title V staff has worked diligently, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, to provide opportunities for students to succeed,” Johnson said. “Tutoring services continued virtually even when suspended face-to-face instruction. We want our students to stay on their path to graduation.”

Funds from the grant also were used to purchase Grammarly Premium, which allows students to check spelling, grammar, tone, style and vocabulary, as well as serving as a plagiarism monitor. The program is available campus wide for free. At the end of spring semester, more than 1,000 students had used the program, Johnson said.

The grant was also used to upgrade software to help students’ progression toward graduation, advising, to utilize space more effectively on campus and to plan and improve upon retention and graduation rates.

Other funds were used to establish a grant to assist with need-based scholarships for students. The grant also pays for several positions, including a supplemental instruction and programs specialist, an academic success coach and an academic advisor, as well as part-time positions that include a Title V project director and an academic advisor that is shared with Residential Life, which oversees campus housing.

“The project’s long-term outcomes are to increase course completion and fall-to-fall retention rates, increase the proportion of degrees awarded to Hispanic and other underserved students, increase the graduation rate and provide the students of Dalton State College with exceptional educational experiences that lead to success,” Johnson said.

The dedication to students is one reason Gooberlert chose Dalton State.

“I like that we’re a smaller school,” she said. “I believe the professors are here to help us. I’ve struggled some in college, but I’ve found so many people who are here to help.”