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Retention and Success Glossary

Academic coach: An academic coach and a student will develop a success plan that includes short-term and long-term goals, specific action items, referrals to resources, and an assessment of progress. Students will learn and apply success strategies such as time management, study skills, test preparation and financial literacy. Academic coaching is offered through the Student Success Center, UT LEAD Program, and First-Year Studies.

Academic advisor: A departmental/major or college-based faculty or professional advisor who meets with students each semester to discuss and create an academic plan designed to meet students’ educational and career goals, review university resources and programs, review curricular choices, and monitor progress toward achieving educational goals and successful graduation.

Academic probation: A student will be placed on academic probation when (1) their cumulative GPA falls below the minimum acceptable level of 2.0 for one semester, or (2) the semester GPA falls below the minimum acceptable level of 2.0 two consecutive terms of enrollment.

At-risk: Conceptualize “risk” to include all factors that can reduce a student’s chance of graduating from an institution, rather than limiting its review to academic factors.  Every student has some degree of risk of not graduating until the time that he or she actually completes all graduation requirements.  As a result, throughout their collegiate careers students are on a risk continuum determined by factors that often fall into three main categories:

1.   Factors that may be inherent to the student at the time of entry into an institution (e.g., academic preparation, two- or four-year transfer status, academic motivation and effort, socioeconomic status, first-generation college student);

2.   Factors that may be inherent to the student’s institution and program (e.g., institutional culture, academic rigor of degree, academic and social support); and

3.   Factors that arise during a student’s collegiate career (e.g., not progressing into a desired major, change of major/career direction, personal issues, loss of financial aid/scholarships).

Although individual risk factors may be readily identified, research in a number of areas (e.g., developmental psychology, student success) has shown that many adverse outcomes are related most strongly to an accumulation of risk factors from a larger universe of factors.

Early Alert (coordinated by First-Year Studies): An outreach program designed for early detection and intervention for students exhibiting signs of academic distress. Early Alert requests will be sent electronically to instructors of selected first-year courses through Grades First. The Early Alert intervention program is coordinated through the First-Year Studies program. The Thornton Athletics Student Life Center also uses Grades First Early Alert to request feedback from instructors on student-athletes who are enrolled in specific courses.

Education-impacting disability: A diagnosed physical, emotional, or learning disability that makes a student eligible for services from the Office of Disability Services.

Educational Advancement Program: Federal grant program for students who have academic need (determined by high school GPA, ACT score, or college GPA), and be at least one of the following:

  • First generation
  • Low income
  • Physically challenged (learning disabled and Vocational Rehabilitation students included)

Engagement: The amount of energy a student invests in his or her education, and also the amount of resources an institution devotes to the educational practices utilized.

Exploratory: Undeclared major; can be either university exploratory (not attached to a specific college yet) or college exploratory (in a college, but not in a major yet).

First-generation college student: Neither parent has earned a four-year degree.

First-Year Studies: The First-Year Studies Office (FYS) is devoted to ensuring a smooth transition and a successful experience for all students in their first year at UT. FYS offers specific courses for first-year students that focus on engagement and transition to college. FYS 100 is required of all first-year students and is completed by the start of fall semester. Other FYS courses are led by professional staff or faculty (BA 100, AGN 100, FYS 101) or topical seminars led by tenured or tenure-track faculty (FYS 129).

Ignite:  The Ignite Program is a unique opportunity for freshmen to learn about opportunities for involvement and life outside the classroom while meeting other new students and developing their leadership skills. Ignite participants learn about getting inVOLved and making a difference at the University of Tennessee. The Ignite Program is divided into the Summit, a fun-filled three-day retreat, Serves, a five-day service program in Knoxville, and Outdoors, a five-day outdoor leadership program- all led by our Ignite Team Leaders!

Judicial sanctions: The Student Conduct and Community Standards Office is concerned with the individual rights and responsibilities of students. Staff members serve as advisors to the student judicial system and, when necessary, initiate appropriate disciplinary proceedings.

Students placed on disciplinary probation receive direction, guidance, support, and encouragement. An effort is made to identify and correct problems interfering with academic progress. While on probation students may be referred to other agencies for help with personal, psychological, and drug/alcohol problems.

Leaver:  A dropout, or leaver, is a student who enters college but leaves before graduating and never returns to that or any other school OR for UT purposes, a student who leaves the institution for any reason prior to graduation during or in-between terms and does not return the following term.

Multicultural Mentoring Program: Through the Office of Multicultural Student Life MMP provides personal support, assistance, social guidance, and positive campus survival skills to first-year and transfer minority students by developing activities and interactions with upper-class students to address personal needs, thus contributing to their academic success, and enhancing the University of Tennessee’s efforts in recruiting, retaining and graduating minority students.

One Stop: One Stop Express Student Services is the source for answers on financial aid, student account, registration, and student records. Instead of dealing with multiple offices from the start, make One Stop the first stop!

Pell Grant: Federally funded aid awarded to undergraduate students with exceptional financial need who have not received their first bachelor’s degree.

Persistence: Occurs when a student successfully integrates into the institution academically and socially.

Retention: Occurs when a student enrolls each semester until graduation, studies full-time, and graduates; retention is an institutional measure.

RA (Resident Assistant): A University Housing student employee who assumes many leadership roles within the residence hall environment. The main functions of an RA are to establish strong relationships with residents, promote a sense of community on the floor, encourage and support academic achievement, and serve as a peer helper when residents have a concern or problem. They also serve as a resource person and referral agent for the university.

Sense of belonging: The feeling of being connected and accepted within one’s family and community.

Socioeconomic status: An economic and sociological combined total measure of a person’s work experience and of an individual’s or family’s economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education, and occupation. When analyzing a family’s SES, the household income and earners’ education and occupation are examined as well as combined income (versus with an individual, when their own attributes are assessed).

Student Attrition: a longitudinal process of interactions between the individual and the academic and social systems of the college during which a person’s experiences in those systems…continually modify his/her goals and institutional commitments in ways which lead to persistence and/or to varying forms of dropout.

Tennessee Pledge: Need-based scholarship available to Tennessee resident students who matriculate for the fall semester following graduation from a Tennessee high school and whose family adjusted gross income (AGI) is $40,000 or less. The Tennessee Pledge award will cover the difference between the student’s scholarship package and the cost of attendance.

Tennessee Promise: Scholarship available to first-time, first-year entering freshman graduates of Tennessee Promise high schools.

Tutor: Based on the needs of a given student, tutors engage students in learning strategies that lead to success, apply time management strategies to their study habits, improve the student’s understanding of specific subject material, and connect the student with other academic/learning assistance opportunities on campus. Tutoring and learning assistance are offered in several formats at UT in an effort to meet the academic support needs of undergraduate students: one-on-one by appointment or on a walk-in basis, small-group tutoring focusing on a specific class, and supplemental instruction (peer-led study groups). The Student Success Center website provides an overview of all tutoring services at UT.