Keith Allen encounters students in his job who are often unsure of exactly what to do or how to do it at UGA.
As housing and retention coordinator for the Division of Academic Enhancement, Allen is responsible for helping students who fall short of their academic potential.
Allen coordinates the division’s Collaborative Academic and Retention Effort Program, an academic recovery program to meet the needs of students who are placed on scholastic probation for the first time at UGA. The program helps students assess academic barriers, develop plans to address those barriers and begin practicing strategies to improve their learning.
Having faced similar challenges as an undergraduate, Allen knows what it’s like to change poor study habits, lack of motivation and bring up a weak GPA. This allows him to relate well and equip UGA students when they need it most.
After 12 years in real estate development, Allen determined that his ongoing interest in lifelong learning would be better applied in an academic environment. So after earning a master’s degree in higher education and student development, he returned to Georgia to work at UGA.
“I often act as the bridge between the curricular and extracurricular lives of students, and sometimes among colleagues. Landing in this type of role has been a great fit for me,” Allen said.
Allen also coordinates the Division of Academic Enhancement’s Early Alert Program, which allows faculty and staff to easily connect UGA students who are at-risk of an academic shortfall or failure to a wealth of on-campus resources and solutions.
“Oftentimes I’m showing students how to determine what’s the clear goal to reach at the end the semester, the end of their pre-major or the end of their undergraduate years at UGA,” Allen said. “It’s exciting, just being an encourager and helping them process through the things like growing up and taking academic responsibility.”
A diverse array of factors can cause students to fall short in the classroom, and Allen said he considers it a privilege to help students identify their obstacles, make changes to improve their performance and thrive in a higher learning environment.
“Whether students are trying to keep the HOPE scholarship or just save their academic standing, that’s what I’m here for,” Allen said. “The students who arrive at UGA are pretty well equipped-about half of our students are in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class, 90 percent of UGA students were in the top 25 percent-so for them to trip and fall academically, sometimes that’s a big shock to their system.
“That being said, most students are relieved to learn that academic success at UGA is more a matter of finding appropriate learning strategies, behaviors and mindsets than a matter of natural ability and high IQ,” he also said.
Allen also chairs the Housing Academic Team, a collaborative group from UGA Housing, the Division of Academic Enhancement and Franklin College Academic Advising that sponsors “Get Smart” Month to provide academic workshops for students in the fall and an academic majors fair each spring. During the month and throughout each semester, Allen also teaches about test preparation, time management and learning strategies.
In addition, Allen connects students to the most appropriate campus resources, whether academic or extracurricular in nature.
“To many students this is a huge campus, so part of my job is to ensure they know what’s available to support their efforts to succeed,” he said. “That’s what drives me, seeing success stories where students change from faltering to thriving. It’s that one student every so often who sends me a thank you email that makes it worth it.”