Elvis is alive and well and living in Alamitos Residence Hall.
One of W.K. Kellogg’s most famous Arabian horses is buried beneath the Rose Garden.
Hollywood’s rich and famous used to come to Cal Poly Pomona for a good time.
Urban myths include the ridiculous, the plausible and the true, but all have one thing in common: They take on a life of their own regardless of how much they might strain the bounds of believability.
“I’ve been working at Cal Poly Pomona for 26 years, and I hear things all the time that people have heard from somebody else. Sometimes it’s something positive about the campus, but more often it’s negative,” says Associate Provost Claudia Pinter-Lucke. “And I’m often amazed that what they’ve heard isn’t true at all.”
The Graduation Initiative steering committee, which Pinter-Lucke co-chairs, is on a mission to set the record straight with a project it calls Myth-Busters.
“Some of the myths that persist on campus influence students to think that they can’t take a certain course, that they can’t appeal something that’s happened to them, that they can’t graduate in a reasonable time,” Pinter-Lucke says. “It’s important that they know what’s true. Our university’s Graduation Initiative is all about helping students succeed, and Myth-Busters is one of the tools.”
Possible Myth #1: It takes six years for a student to graduate if he or she starts here as a freshman.
Pinter-Lucke has heard this one a lot. It turns out to be true for a lot of people, but the data and the facts behind the data tell a more nuanced story.
“I’m a mathematician, and one of the things that we learn quite early is that it’s easy to lie with statistics,” she says. “We want to be careful when we show whether a statement is true or false. We need accurate data to back up what we’re saying.”
Here is what the data show:
Of the students who started at Cal Poly Pomona as freshmen and graduated in spring 2011 (the most recent year for such statistics), 25 percent did so in four years. A larger group – 62 percent – graduated in five or six years. Time to graduation varied depending on major, with engineering students on average tending to take the most time, in part because they are required to complete more units. The average time to degree for this group was 5.35 years.
Cal Poly Pomona and other public universities are often compared with private liberal arts colleges, whose students are expected to graduate in four years. Pinter-Lucke says the comparison is flawed because the CSU draws on a broader spectrum of the population. It also enrolls far more non-traditional students who arrive on campus with more diverse backgrounds and often have conflicting demands on their time, which might require them to take a quarter or two off or switch from full-time to part-time status.
The fact that Cal Poly Pomona is a polytechnic university also plays into graduation statistics, Pinter-Lucke says.
“We expect our students to take advantage of opportunities such as internships, study abroad and service learning, which can add to the time it takes to earn a degree, but makes them better prepared to start their career when they graduate. We hear over and over again that our students have a flatter learning curve in their first job after graduation than do students from other universities.”
The Graduation Initiative steering committee plans to address at least one Myth-Buster per month, and it has several in hand, but it is seeking input from the campus community as well.
“We know there are more things out there that people are wondering about,” Pinter-Lucke says. “We want to know what they are. If you’re wondering about something you’ve heard on campus, let us know.”
To Submit a Myth to be Busted, visit: http://www.cpp.edu/~gradinitiative/contact.shtml
For more information about Myth-Busters and the Graduation Initiative, visit http://www.cpp.edu/~gradinitiative/index.shtml
(For the record, Elvis has never been sighted on campus; one or more Arabian horses might be buried near the Rose Garden, though no one is planning a dig; and the Hollywood elite indeed did come to Pomona in the 1920s and ’30s to socialize and take in Kellogg’s Arabian horse shows.)