APRIL 6, 2023 — The first cohort of students from the UTSA Bold Scholars program are academically outperforming their peers on campus, according to a mid-year report from Academic Affairs.
The Bold Scholars program was introduced in fall 2022 to allow more students to engage more fully in the university experience through cohorted academic and financial support and living on campus during their first year of college. The program, which is managed by UTSA's division of Student Success in collaboration with the division of Strategic Enrollment, is reserved exclusively for students who were admitted to UTSA as part of the university’s Bold Promise tuition assistance program.
Bold Scholars live together in renovated, triple-occupancy rooms in Chisholm Hall; receive dedicated assistance navigating the university, including specialized programming; and attend one-on-one check-in meetings, including a mid-term grade check-in meeting, with program staff.
“The goal of the Bold Scholars program is to improve the success of Bold Promise students by increasing their engagement on campus, and these early results show the program is doing just that,” said Lynn Barnes Jr., UTSA senior vice provost for strategic enrollment.
Indeed, the nearly 200 Bold Scholars who are part of the pilot program are taking more credit hours, making better grades and returning at higher rates than other first-time-in-college UTSA students and even other Bold Promise students.
Bold Scholars students earned an average institutional GPA of 3.09 in fall 2022, compared to 2.91 for other Bold Promise students and 2.88 for other UTSA freshmen. They also attempted and earned more credit hours than their peers. Bold Scholars attempted an average of 14.11 hours and completed an average of 13.08 hours.
By comparison, the average hours for Bold Promise students were 13.44 attempted and 12.9 hours earned. The average hours for other first-time UTSA students were 13.67 hours attempted and 11.95 hours earned.
Both Bold Scholars and Bold Promise participants were more likely to register for the spring 2023 semester, with 97% of students in the programs signed up for spring classes, compared to 93% of other first-time-in-college students at UTSA.
“Research consistently indicates that students who engage fully in the academic experience by living on campus — both at UTSA and nationally — have better grades and stronger persistence and retention rates than those who do not, so we fully expected to see these successful outcomes with our first Bold Scholars cohort,” said Tammy Wyatt, UTSA vice provost for student success.
With the introduction of the Bold Scholars pilot, 45% of Bold Promise students now are living in UTSA on-campus housing as of fall 2022, up dramatically from only 15% for the first cohort of Bold Promise students in fall 2020. Thirty-five percent of Bold Promise students lived on campus in fall 2021.
The Bold Scholars themselves are giving high marks to the program, too. In a survey of participants conducted by Student Success following the fall 2022 semester, 85% of respondents indicated they believed living on campus contributed to their academic success and had helped them feel more connected to UTSA, and also reported having participated in organized campus activities that occur outside the classroom.
In addition to the academic benefits, the Bold Scholars program also offers important financial benefits to participating students. As part of the Bold Scholars survey, 89% of students indicated that the housing scholarship was an important part of their decision to come to UTSA, and 62% stated they would not have been able to attend UTSA without the Bold Scholars program.
Of this initial cohort of Bold Scholars, 77% are first generation college students and 87% are Hispanic/Latino or Black/African American.
UTSA now is planning to continue the program for another cohort of new students for fall 2023, said Barnes and Wyatt. The Bold Scholars program is funded by the UT System Promise Plus endowment, which seeks to reduce the cost of higher education for undergraduate students and their families.
“Bold Scholars is a prime example of the collaborative, innovative programming that is enabling affordable access to higher education and creating bold futures for Texas students,” said UTSA Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy. “We are so proud of the success of our first group of Bold Scholars and pleased to continue the program to allow more Roadrunners to take full advantage of being part of a living-learning community with dedicated academic support, campus involvement and career-focused, ‘learning by doing’ experiences.”
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