High grades linked to school involvement

The key to a high grade point average may involve participation in extracurricular activities, according to statistics from both the Student Life office and the Athletic department.

The statistics show higher retention levels and GPA’s among members of Greek organization and athletic teams.

Figures from the Office of Student Life show Greek students were almost one-third more likely to come back to school for the next semester than non-Greeks. In addition, GPA tended to be higher among Greek members. In Spring 2001, the sorority’s averaged a 2.83 GPA compared to 2.63 GPA for women students. The fraternities averaged a 2.5 GPA compared to the rest of the men’s average of 2.43.

As a result of such findings, Dr. Gregory Stewart, vice president of enrollment management, said the university strives to provide as many extracurricular activities as possible. One example is the Invest in Success program, which the University has invested $1.2 million in since 1998. The program provides increased academic advising and student support services like mentoring and developmental programs to boost retention.

“Student organizations are a very positive component of the university,” Stewart said. “Depending on your major there are many student organizations connected to a particular major that provide an opportunity to learn more about you area of interest.”

Steve Cahill, president of Phi Kappa Tau, said Greek organizations especially help students with academics. In addition to imposing a minimum GPA requirement for members, Cahill said each Greek organization offers support to help each other with their studies.

Phi Kappa Tau, like many other fraternities and sororities, have scholarship programs and study table and provides companionship, which gives students direction in their college years, Cahill said.

“I would say it has improved my academics with out a doubt,” Cahill said. “It encourages academic spirit.”

Student Life is currently looking into the effect of other extracurricular activities on academics, and Director Betty Mulkey said she suspects it will be similar.

“Students find a support system and find friends who tell them what classes to take, what teachers are good and help each other with course work,” she said.

Mulkey also said the higher retention levels and GPA’s may not be as result of an organizations affect on a student, but also the caliber of students who get involved with student organizations.

“Students who have initiative and who want to succeed get involved more in school,” Mulkey said.

Initiative also characterizes student-athletes as well, said Jane Meier, athletic director.

“They are disciplined,” Meier said. “It takes a lot of work to focus on academics in season.”

In the athletic department, the average GPA for student-athletes reached a record high in the Fall of 2001 at 2.88.

To promote higher education, athletic teams hold weekly study tables during the season to aid teammates in their studies, and the athletic department sends out grade checks four times a semester to show a student where they might need improvement.

Individual coaches also add their own little incentives to keep athletes’ grades up.

Woman’s softball coach Kathy Bown said she makes any player who misses class run six miles at six a.m.. Her softball team averaged a 3.0 for last semester. She said she especially tries hard to encourage first-year players to keep up with their studies.

“The first-year players come here and think they have a lot of time on their hands to practice and study,” Bown said.

Most athletes, however, do not have a lot of time to do both. Soccer player Kevin Crone said juggling sports with academics can make school a daunting task. The challenge, he said, motivates him to better his grades.

“It is pretty difficult, but as long as you have your priorities set, it isn’t impossible,” Crone said. “It is like another reason for trying harder.”

Being a member of a sports team helps academically and makes it easier to get through school, said Michelle Cottrell, forward for the women’s basketball team and women’s all-time scoring champ. Cottrell, who is a senior Physical Education major, said she couldn’t imagine going through school without playing basketball.

“I think I would hate school,” Cottrell said. “Basketball is what motivates me.”