University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown

GOALS Program

GOALS (Gaining Opportunities through Academic Leadership and Success) is an academic recovery program designed for students who did not do as well as they would have hoped during their first semester in college. The intent is to work with students to identify what DID NOT work from the previous semester, to develop new behaviors to not only correct past problems, but also to lay the foundation for a successful college career moving forward.

For new students, the transition to college life presents several challenges, both in and outside the classroom. In some cases, these challenges keep new students from working to their true potential. Pitt-Johnstown is not alone in dealing with this phenomenon.  On every college campus, there are students who did well academically in high school and were admitted with full expectations of doing equally well in college, only to see themselves fall short of that goal.

Each semester, we look at the performance of all of our new students during their first semester at Pitt-Johnstown. We identify students who did not achieve good academic status, earning a semester Grade Point Average below a 2.0.  Depending upon the GPA, some students are suspended from the University, and many are given the opportunity to return as part of GOALS.  Some students are moved into an adapted academic support program.

What is GOALS?

GOALS is mandatory.

We invite first-year students who have experienced academic difficulty in the first semester and who typically would be suspended, but who still show promise, to participate.  The purpose of GOALS is to offer a second chance to students, providing appropriate resources and support to meet their individual needs.  The program is not intended as a punishment for poor performance, but rather it is an opportunity for students to receive guidance to develop self-directed behaviors necessary for college success.

GOALS is structured.

The program requires students to participate in all aspects of the program.  Non-participation could lead to suspension. The requirements of the program are outlined to the students before they agree to return for the following semester, and participating students sign a contract that represents their understanding of expectations. Compliance encompasses attending classes, completing GOALS assignments, fulfilling study hours, and other components.

GOALS is comprehensive.

Components of the GOALS program are designed to touch on all areas of the student’s academic life.  We work closely with the students, addressing class attendance, academic success strategies, learning styles & individual strengths, and personal & academic challenges.

What are the Program Components?

At the end of each semester, the Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs notifies students below a 2.0 GPA that they are in academic jeopardy and may remain at the school by enrolling in the GOALS class. Students invited to participate in the GOALS Program also receive an explanation of the program as well as the GOALS Contract.  Students wishing to return for the next semester must agree to the conditions outlined in the contract. At the beginning of the semester, all returning GOALS students receive a physical copy and clarification of the contract at the first GOALS course meeting.

GOAL Students are expected to:

  • Maintain 90% classroom attendance. Missing class is one of the most destructive behaviors for college students, and we require that GOAL students commit to class attendance.  Attendance is tracked weekly and students are held accountable for any unexcused absences.
  • Meet monthly with an Academic Counselor through the Academic Success Center.  These meetings are in addition to appointments they may have with their Academic Advisors.  All Pitt-Johnstown students are assigned an Academic Advisor who assists them with major and career planning.  The ASC Academic Counselors serve as GOALS success coaches to monitor the student’s academic recovery.
  • Complete weekly study hours.  In order to maximize their use of resources and ensure enough time is devoted to academic endeavors, GOALS students are required to complete a minimum of 5 study hours per week in either the ASC or the library.
  • Complete a weekly structured study schedule. Working with your Academic Counselor during the assigned weekly meetings, students will identify specific academic tasks that need to be addressed in the coming week and assign specific times to complete them. 
  • Take CAS 1917: Foundations of Learning.  This three-credit course examines the academic and psychosocial components of effective college learning.  “Psychosocial” refers to the interrelation of social factors and individual thought and behavior. Students will explore their identities as learners and build specific academic skills to maximize their academic potential.
  • Adjust their schedules with the assistance of an Academic Advisor.  We want to identify areas of potential concern: Is the student in the right major? Are there courses that can or NEED to be repeated? Repeating failed courses may be the most efficient way to repair a low GPA.  However, any schedule adjustments must be made with the oversight of an Academic Advisor.
  • Adhere to the Student Code of Conduct as well as the Guidelines on Academic Integrity. These policies apply to ALL students, but GOALS students are under additional scrutiny, given their academic probation status.
  • Take advantage of all tutoring and academic assistance services.  While not REQUIRED of GOALS students, tutoring is strongly recommended and every opportunity is taken to connect GOALS students with these services.

How do I “graduate” from GOALS?

At the end of the semester, all GOALS students are reevaluated based on their academic progress (as measured by their Cumulative GPA).  Students who raise their Cumulative GPAs above a 2.0 are considered to be in good academic standing with the University and are released from the requirements of the GOAL program. Students who fail to meet a 2.0 cumulative GPA after one semester in GOAL are evaluated to determine their academic status. The Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs (working in concert with the GOALS Academic Counselors) assesses the students’ progress while in GOALS to determine if another semester of support will be offered, or if academic suspension is warranted.