Fourth-Year Student Improves GPA and Accelerates Degree with SOUP

Zoey Hartman describes her experience with GTPE’s Summer Online Undergraduate Program

March 13, 2020 | By GTPE Communications
Zoey Hartman, fourth-year Georgia Tech student

For students looking for a way to stay on top of their studies during the summer, Georgia Tech Professional Education (GTPE) offers on-campus summer courses in an online format, known as the Summer Online Undergraduate Program (SOUP).

Whether taking a class that normally fills up during the fall and spring semesters or lightening your load for a future semester, the program is a convenient way to make progress toward your degree. It also pairs well with an internship, co-op, or summer job.

SOUP courses carry the same value and degree credit as on-campus courses, with sessions lasting five or 11 weeks. While the online environment is highly structured — with clear due dates, exam expectations, and learning goals — it also allows for flexibility in location and schedule. Additionally, early studies, conducted by Georgia Tech's Center for 21st Century Universities, show a direct correlation between SOUP participation and accelerated graduation – 3.97 years versus 4.11 years, respectively.

Zoey Hartman, a fourth-year biomechanical engineering student with a minor in health and medical sciences, is one of the thousands of students who has benefited from participating in the online program. She shares more details of her experience in the following interview.

Why did you choose SOUP?
I chose to participate in SOUP because the flexibility of the program allowed me to get ahead in my graduation plan while working a part-time job and traveling multiple times to visit friends and family. Being able to work at my own pace and on my own schedule was a huge benefit that I experienced with the program. I was even able to take an exam while traveling to attend my cousin’s wedding in Cape Cod.

How has taking SOUP courses helped your college experience and future outlook? Which ones did you take?
Before learning about the available SOUP courses, I was worried that I would not be able to complete the prerequisite for a class that I wanted to take the next fall semester. This would have delayed a series of courses that need to be taken sequentially before my senior capstone. I took Circuits and Electronics (ECE 3710), as well as a course in the School of Applied Physiology for my minor, Nutrition and Health (APPH 4851).

What are the top three benefits you got out of participating in a summer program at Tech?
Participating in a summer program at Georgia Tech allowed me to get ahead in my coursework. Because of the summer program, I will be able to graduate a semester earlier than I anticipated. The flexibility and independence of the program allowed me to travel and work a part-time job. Additionally, due to the online platform of the classes, I was able to communicate with my professors, teaching assistants, and other students easily which resulted in a better understanding of the material and an improvement in my GPA.

How would you describe being in Atlanta for the summer?
I really enjoyed spending a summer in Atlanta while taking SOUP classes. There are so many festivals and community events near Midtown that I was able to attend due to the flexibility of the online coursework.

What are your plans for summer this year?
This summer, I will be working full-time as a part of an internship program at a medical device company.

What would you say to other students who may want to decline participation in a summer program because they don't want to deprive themselves of R&R time?
While enrolled in a summer program, I was still able to travel almost every week while balancing schoolwork with relaxation. Being able to access course material online meant that I could learn at my own pace and spend time however I wanted. SOUP courses have the unique structure of flexibility that allowed me to customize my schedule.

Why would you recommend this to other students who have never tried it before?
I would absolutely recommend participating in SOUP courses to other students. It was a great way to balance school, a part-time job, and travel plans. Professors and teaching support staff were constantly available for questions and concerns, material was available for me to access at my own pace, and the structure of the program allowed me to improve my GPA and get ahead in my four-year plan.