Outreach effort helps keep University's enrollment strong
June 15, 2023
Sacramento State is defying national trends, with its enrollment holding steady at a time when colleges and universities across the country have seen significant declines in their student bodies.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced most students to study from home, fewer people are enrolling and staying in college. Overall enrollment at colleges and universities nationwide has slipped more than 7% in recent years.
Sacramento State's student population, however, has held steady at about 31,000, thanks to the University's concerted efforts to reach out to students at risk of leaving school.
"We're engaged," said Steven Salcido, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Services. "If we're not hearing from students, we're contacting them with a phone call or text and asking, 'What's going on? Do you need assistance? What can we do to help?' "
Attracting and retaining students has become one of the most pressing issues in higher education, and for the CSU, reversing enrollment declines is a top priority.
"We're engaged. If we're not hearing from students, we're contacting them with a phone call or text and asking, 'What's going on? Do you need assistance? What can we do to help?' " -- Steven Salcido, associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Student Services
This fall, each of the system's 23 campuses will launch a "dual admissions" program that administrators believe will make it easier for high school and community college students to pursue bachelor's degrees.
The program, Transfer Success Pathway, will allow high school students graduating in 2023 and beyond to attend a California community college and enter into an agreement with a specific CSU to transfer within three years. The program will be open to those who were ineligible for CSU admission directly after high school because of personal or financial hardship, or were denied admission as first-year applicants.
Participating students will be offered transfer advising and access to library and other services either from the CSU they plan to attend, or from a university nearest their residence.
The approach will establish stronger relationships with students while they are enrolled at community colleges and will help the CSU more accurately predict future transfer demand for specific majors, administrators said.
In the meantime, Salcido said, Sac State will continue to engage students who have missed registration deadlines or otherwise are in jeopardy of losing momentum toward graduation.
The approach has been effective, Salcido added. Often, the University can offer streamlined admissions and other help that can put students back on the path toward earning their degrees.
The return to in-person interactions is a plus, he said.
"When the pandemic hit, students lost some of the interactions that kept them on track," such as informal discussions with other scholars during the registration process, Salcido said. Now, with most students back on campus, students are engaging with each other, and with faculty and staff early in the process, he said.
"Sac State has a lot going for it, and students can see it," said Salcido. "They want to come here and experience a beautiful campus that offers a great education and is rich in diversity."