8,200+ Calls to KSU Freshmen


I remember vividly the excitement of starting college – from the anticipation of picking the right classes to the opportunity to connect with classmates who would eventually become lifelong friends. Fast-forward to 2020 – can you imagine starting your college career in the midst of a worldwide pandemic? This year’s freshman class at KSU, the largest seeking a bachelor’s degree in the state of Georgia, faces the regular challenges of figuring out what it means to be a successful student. However, they face this challenge in a world of masks and social distancing.

It is so important to everyone at KSU that these freshmen are successful academically and have a positive experience. The leadership team at KSU decided that we needed to check in directly with all of them, so we divvied up the names and attempted to call every single one of our more than 8,200 freshmen.

I participated in these calls and would like to report what we learned. First of all, there were certainly a handful of wrong numbers and students for whom we had to leave voicemails. However, we were all impressed by the number of students who answered the phone, even though they did not recognize our phone numbers. So, what did they tell us?

First, I am happy to report that the students I spoke with were respectful and polite, but not particularly impressed that the university president was calling them directly. I was delighted that KSU is the type of university where students would think it normal to speak with their president. They also were clear in looking forward to more face-to-face time in classes and socially. We are working hard to increase these interactions in the spring semester (while still abiding by social distancing requirements).

In some ways, a freshman year is a freshman year. For example, many find math just as hard during a pandemic as during a regular freshman year. We had the occasional student who needed individual help, and we pointed them to tutoring, counseling or advising services. We are hopeful that our new one-stop KSU Info Hotline (470-578-4636) will help our freshmen and all students find the support services they need across campus.

Perhaps the most encouraging comments demonstrated the resiliency and maturity of our incoming freshmen. Though many are looking forward to a college experience post-COVID, they were quick to explain that this is what college is like for all students across the country. Many pointed out specific faculty members who are going above and beyond to help them be successful. Others had great suggestions for how we can improve upon our efforts next semester.

We were particularly struck by how many expressed how glad they were that they had made the decision to be an Owl. We can all learn from their insight and high expectations for the future – a future where we are sitting side-by-side in classrooms, at sports fields, at artistic performances and at off-campus social functions.

Pamela Whitten


Written By Whitten