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YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Young Harris College was one of only three institutions in Georgia, and the only private college, to be selected by the Association of American Colleges and Universities to participate in this summer’s Institute on High-Impact Practices and Student Success. The five-person team consisted of Dr. Theresa Spanella, Dr. Jennifer Hallett, Dr. Linda Jones, Jackie Lewis-Burton, and Lundon Addison.

This four-day virtual institute had five main goals aimed to help participating colleges and universities develop systems to achieve quality, equity and student engagement: “develop a comprehensive plan of action, identify strategies and practices, bring effective high-impact practices to scale, build institutional capacity for assessment and bridge divides and build collaborations among programs and divisions.” To reach these goals, the conference covered myriad topics from offing a freshman seminar, extending internship opportunities, hosting undergraduate research, utilizing ePortfolios and offering capstone seminars.

Young Harris College proudly already utilizes a number of these high-impact practices, but the focus this year was learning ways to maximize the success of diverse student populations. With this in mind, the YHC team concentrated on ways to improve freshman seminars. They worked diligently to devise a framework that will breathe new life into the freshman experience.

“The entire experience was invigorating. It was refreshing to work with such an energized group of professionals who have genuine excitement for helping students succeed. We ended the institute with an established plan of practical strategies to implement at YHC right now. While it will take a full year to implement the entire plan, we are already working to reshape the freshman experience for the Class of 2025. With an emphasis on lifelong literacy, this refreshed freshman seminar will engage students and help to prepare them for their next four years at YHC,” said Dr. Theresa Spanella, Executive Director of Student Success and this year’s AAC&U Team Leader for YHC.

“It is truly an honor to have been selected to participate in the AAC&U’s Institute on High Impact Practices. As an organization committed to supporting and improving higher education nationwide, the AAC&U regularly works with thousands of colleges and universities across the country. I look forward to seeing what our team has developed as we revise our first-year program to ensure that all new YHC students develop a strong sense of belonging in the Enchanted Valley,” said YHC Provost Dr. Jason Pierce.

About Young Harris College

Young Harris College is a private baccalaureate and master’s degree-granting institution located in the beautiful mountains of North Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires and empowers students through an education that purposefully integrates the liberal arts and professional studies. The College has four academic divisions: Fine Arts; Humanities; Mathematics, Science and Technology; and Professional Studies. More than 1,400 students are enrolled in its residential and Early College programs. The College is an active member of the NCAA Division II and remains a fierce competitor in the prestigious Peach Belt Conference. For more information, visit