In January 2010, California State University announced a long-term graduation initiative with the goal of increasing the system’s graduation rates and helping underrepresented students to complete college. Each CSU campus was asked to work on an individual plan with specific measures designed to reach their own graduation goal. Campuses already in the top quartile for graduation rates were asked to commit to increasing graduation rates by an additional 6 percent, as well as cutting in half the gap for underserved students’ degree attainment.
The Cal Poly Pomona plan is expected to increase graduation rates and decrease the gap between the graduation rates of the general undergraduate student population and underrepresented students as follows:
- First-time freshmen: from 50 to 58 percent.
- Transfers: from 72 to 78 percent.
- Underrepresented students: from 44 to 54 percent.
Significant increases in entering student demand and difficult economic conditions over the last several years have impacted Cal Poly Pomona’s ability to meet the needs of its diverse student population. Graduation rates have been increasing, but without deliberate intervention this trend might not continue at its current rate. Particularly troubling is the potential impact on the difference between the graduation rates of low-income and underrepresented minority students and their peers. The university must re-examine how resources are allocated to address student success and must regularly evaluate the effectiveness of activities funded by those resources.
The CPP Graduation Initiative Steering Committee identified three broad areas of interest that can affect graduation rates: Advising, Curriculum and Engagement.
Advising – Advising and the associated personal contact can play a significant role in student success.
- Do freshmen get the advising to allow them to get off to a good start?
- What are the characteristics of students who are likely to be at risk?
- How can we use technology to better interact with students?
- What intervention would help students close to graduation?
Curriculum – Lack of access to classes slows students’ progress to graduation. Difficulties can be caused by academic difficulties and inefficient scheduling.
- What courses are most likely to delay progress to degree?
- What academic support would help reduce the number of course attempts?
- How can the remediation programs be enhanced to improve success?
Engagement – Students active in campus life stay connected – both as undergraduates and as alumni.
- How can we better connect the curricular and co-curricular aspects of students’ careers at CPP?
- What would increase students’ connection with faculty, peers, alumni and professionals in their discipline?
- How can we increase the financial support for students?