California State University will announce a long-term graduation initiative at tomorrow’s Board of Trustees meeting with the goal of increasing the system’s graduation rates and helping underrepresented students to complete college. The graduation initiative involves all 23 CSU campuses and is expected to raise six-year graduation rates by eight percent by 2016, as well as cut in half the existing gap in degree attainment by CSU’s underrepresented students.
“As the largest public university system in the country, it is our responsibility to ensure that we do everything possible to help our students be successful in earning their degree,” said CSU Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Jeri Echeverria. “The goal of this initiative is to not only increase the number of students who complete their degree but to also help those from traditionally underrepresented communities who may need additional support to finish. After all, that is the end goal — a college degree.”
Currently, CSU’s overall six-year graduation rate is approximately 46 percent, and the goal of the graduation initiative is to bring it up to approximately 54 percent, which is the top quartile of national averages of similar institutions.
“The Obama Administration has set a goal for the United States to be the leader in college degree holders by the year 2020,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “The CSU graduates 90,000 students into the workforce each year, and we cannot reach this national goal without the CSU increasing the number of students that we graduate each year.”
Each CSU campus will work on an individual plan with specific measures designed to reach their own graduation goal. Campuses already in the top quartile for graduation rates have committed to increasing an additional six percent, as well as cutting in half the gap for underserved students’ degree attainment.
While still being finalized, campus plans are expected to include a variety of creative solutions and best practices to help students, including early start and summer bridge programs designed to prepare students for college level work before they enter college as freshmen; degree audits and early warning advising to ensure students take the correct courses and appropriate number of credits; online roadmaps to graduation; and other student support services.
Other actions could include mandating earlier declaration of a major, decreasing the number of general education courses, curtailing student withdrawals from classes, increased use of online learning and technology, block registration for all freshmen, and other remedies designed to help students stay on track.
“A big part of the challenge is that our student profile is not what most think of as a traditional college student,” Echeverria said. “The average age of our students is 24, about 70 percent of them work, and a third of our students are the first in their family to attend college. All of these factors play a part in the approach that we are taking and our ultimate success in supporting students to achieve their degree.”
The graduation initiative will be heard as part of the Committee on Education Policy scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 27 beginning at 8 a.m. with the item expected to be heard at approximately 9 a.m. For a PDF of the presentation, visit www.calstate.edu/PA/News/2010/documents/bot-grad-%20initiative-update.pdf.