Cal Poly’s Graduation Initiative Team sent a plan for increasing graduation rates to the California State University (CSU) Chancellor’s office at the beginning of May. According to the team, if approved and enacted:

  • On-campus housing would be required for both freshmen and sophomores.
  • Freshman block scheduling would be expanded to the entire academic year instead of only the first quarter.
  • More grants would be awarded to students in need of financial assistance.
  • It will be easier to get into courses.

The plan is intended to increase four-year graduation rates, which will make it easier for students to graduate. If it works, students will pay less money because they won’t be taking additional quarters and will be able to get into the classes they need and more students will receive degrees from the university, as there will be a higher turnover rate.

The team’s specific goals are broken up into five categories: improving advising and support, removing barriers to graduation, improving the campus community, eliminating achievement gaps and using data more often in administration.

Improving advising and support

Improving advising and support includes sending emails to students to check in at certain points of their career where the team has noted advising is most needed and creating a larger center in the library for tutoring.

Removing barriers to graduation

Removing barriers to graduation would entail a redesign of high fail-rate classes, providing grants to students who are struggling financially, hiring more faculty to teach more classes and turning the Graduation Writing Requirement into a class.

Improving the campus community

The team thinks that creating a two-year on-campus residence policy would create a more supportive campus, creating a sense of belonging for everyone that will translate into
positive classwork.

Eliminating achievement gaps

Eliminating graduation gaps levels the playing field for all students, Bruno Giberti, architecture professor and member of the team, said. According to Giberti, there are some issues that affect groups differently. For example, the team has observed female students from minority groups have higher graduation rates than male students from minority groups. The team is unsure what the specific issues are, but plan to commission a study once their plan is approved.

Using data

The team also hopes using data will improve the number of desired courses students can enroll in.

“The primary focus, the most important focus, [is] making sure we are offering enough courses to the students,” Senior Vice Provost for Academic Programs and Planning Mary Pedersen said. “The course offerings, it’s fair to say that’s number one.”

Pedersen said the use of PolyPlanner is very important to the team’s goals and is used in scheduling decisions.

The plan’s budget has not been detailed yet, but funding is expected to be provided by the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025. The Initiative plans to increase the six-year graduation rates of all CSU students to 70 percent from 57 percent and the four-year graduation rate to 40 percent from 19 percent.

There are other sources of money for the initiative, but $800,000 in funding for short-term goals have been provided through the CSU system.

Graduation rates are one of the ways California measures budget spending for the CSU system.

Four-year graduation rates for Cal Poly already increased from 30 percent to 47 percent in the past five years and six-year graduation rates increased from 77 percent to 83 percent, according to the Cal Poly Fall 2016 Fact Book.

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