Early Start Program Boosts its Enrollment

It was a productive summer for Cal Poly Pomona's Early Start Program. Enrollment increased by 120 percent compared to last year by offering new services and retooling its recruitment efforts.

The four-year-old summer program is designed to give incoming students a head start on preparatory courses. Students who must complete remediation requirements need to do so within their first year, so an extra quarter gives them more time.  

“We find that the students who start their remediation courses in the summer are more likely to finish their requirements on time because they are less distracted,” says Provost Tomas Morales. “They really have an opportunity to get started on the right track.”

In 2005, the program enrolled 107 students. This summer, enrollment climbed to 235, a 120 percent increase, says Claudia L. Pinter-Lucke, associate vice president of undergraduate studies.

The Early Start Program went in some new directions this summer. A special recruitment effort was directed at two groups: students who have one preparatory class to complete; and students who have the maximum number of preparatory classes to complete.  

In the first case, the carrot is that they might be eligible for the four-year pledge program if they can get the remediation out of the way. In the second case, the students were eligible to join the Freshman Early Start Track, which provided them with an additional Success Skills workshop. The workshop covered a wide range of topics including information about Cal Poly Pomona and its students, study skills, the University Library and leadership opportunities.

The recruitment of students started earlier than previous years and was more personalized.

“In the past we would have sent out one letter,” Pinter-Lucke says.

This year, students got multiple letters and a postcard, which were followed up by a telephonecall, she adds. The work appears to have paid off.

“We had a dramatic increase,” Pinter-Lucke says. “The increase in mathematics enrollment (from 59 to 151) was especially satisfying. Students tend to avoid math. We seemed to find the right message for them this summer.”

For more information about the Early Start Program visit: http://academic.cpp.edu/earlystart/