The CSU Chancellor’s Office has set the expectation that each campus will raise graduation rates by eight percentage points by 2015-16 and reduce by half the existing gap in degree attainment by the CSU’s under-represented minority students. Sacramento State’s Graduation Initiative is a campus-wide plan that grows directly from the CSU mandate.
Why do we need the Graduation Initiative?
As a system, the CSU graduates just over 50% of its students within six years. Every interrupted, abbreviated or incomplete education is a lost opportunity—not just for the student but for his or her family, our community and the state. And the cumulative effects of student success in the CSU impact the nation and even the global workplace.
At Sacramento State, we believe that our job is not only to open the proverbial door of higher education to students, but more importantly to give them access to a degree. In other words, access “done right” means that as many students as possible who meet our requirements and enter the University are able to get the classes and services they need to make timely progress toward a degree. We want to measure our success as an institution—at least in part—by how many students we graduate rather than how many students we admit. We at Sacramento State feel it is imperative that we serve our students better and help more of them complete educations that prepare them for full, productive lives.
What does the GI mean for Sacramento State?
For Sacramento State, meeting the GI goals means that we will by 2015:
Increase our first-time freshman six-year graduation rate to 51%
Increase our four-year transfer graduation rate to 68%
Reduce the achievement gap for under-represented freshmen to 5%
Reduce the achievement gap for under-represented transfer students to 2.5%
How are we working to increase graduation and retention?
We have a plan. The comprehensive Graduation Initiative Strategic Plan extends to every corner of the campus: Academic Affairs, faculty, Student Affairs, Administration and Business Affairs, Information Resources and Technology, the Office of Institutional Research and many other areas.
We’re working in all those areas to incorporate myriad strategies to increase students’ feelings of connection to the University, and concretely improve their success, retention and graduation rates—and we’re looking at data to inform, improve and refine our efforts.
What are some key things Sac State has done so far?
In support of the Graduation Initiative, Sac State has created:
The First Year Experience Program.
Mandatory first-year and transfer student orientation.
Mandatory new student advising.
Mandatory second-year probation advising.
The Peer and Academic Resource Center (PARC), which includes supplemental instruction, tutoring and workshops geared toward juniors and seniors.
College Degree Road Maps that show students a clear path to graduation by major. (The road map website is under construction; students seeking additional information on the road maps should contact Academic Advising and/or their department.)
The Leadership Initiative Program, which rewards student engagement in the University community.
In addition, we’re continually working to redefine the possible in these and other ways:
Making transfer from community colleges easier, more consistent and more straightforward.
Reducing roadblocks and bottlenecks in coursework toward degrees.
Making our processes even more effective and student-friendly—in academic advising, financial aid, registration, the graduation application process and other areas.
Finding new ways to reward co-curricular learning, and increasing student internship and service-learning opportunities.
Finding new ways for faculty to connect with students through mentoring and advising, and through co-curricular activities.
Increasing participation in the classroom.
Developing better ways to track and recruit back students who drop or “stop” out.