Cal Poly earns the highest graduation rates of all the California State Universities, according to statistical reports from the CSU system.

For first year freshmen after six years, Cal Poly’s rate is 68 percent, and for community college transfer students after four years, the rate is 77 percent. The average CSU rate for first-year freshmen is 42 percent and for four-year community college transfer students the rate is 61 percent.

“We must improve the degree rate and the time to degree,” said Robert Detweiler, intern provost. There are students who fail to graduate after 6 years of full-time education, Detweiler added.

Comparing Cal Poly to many of the CSU campuses is like comparing apples to oranges. At many campuses, freshmen are admitted with grades as low as 2.0.

The average GPA for freshmen admitted to Cal Poly in 2003 was 3.8. Upper division transfer students averaged a 3.3 GPA.

“We should expect Cal Poly to be the most successful of the CSU campuses,” Detweiler said. “When compared to the University of California Berkley or the University of California Los Angeles, with rates around 80 percent, we are not successful.”

The good news is that Cal Poly rates have been consistently rising. In 1991, freshman rates were at 57 percent and transfer student rates were at 59 percent.

The greatest impediment to students receiving a degree is the level of academic preparedness that they receive before admission, according to “Answers in the Toolbox,” a report released by the U.S. Department of Education in 1999.

Other impediments include students not managing their class schedule, not finishing their senior project, not passing the writing requirement, drinking too much, outside activities including work, or physiological problems including depression and personal stress.

Cal Poly has established the Student Success Council, chaired by David Conn, vice provost and co-chaired by Cornel Morton, vice president of student affairs.

The council’s focus is on “facilitating student success” by identifying impediments, reviewing class scheduling and improving registration access.

A “drop-in advising program” will be offered in the Chumash Auditorium during the week of October 24. Freshmen will be sent a newsletter explaining advising recommendations and procedures.

Cal poly is implementing PolyProgress, a degree audit program that is available to most students this fall. The program tracks students’ progress towards graduation.

A PolyProgress report will be e-mailed to students at the end of each quarter. The audit will list requirements needed for graduation and provide class recommendations.

A team of CSU trustees and CSU personnel have developed a list of mandates to facilitate graduation success. In the next few weeks, the committee will provide dates for the completion of the mandates.

“I have every reason to believe these mandates will increase graduation rates throughout the CSU system,” said George Gowgani, CSU Trustee.

Campuses are being asked to address the 22 items listed in the mandate, and report to the board on their progress. Items include the examination and possible reduction of unit requirements in programs that require over 120 units, and selective reduction of campus graduation requirements.

The most important mandates are the items that support students in selecting a pathway to graduation, orientations for freshman with an emphasis on graduation and information on career outcomes with specific degrees, said Cara Potes-Fellow, CSU manager of media relations.

“Students take many classes they think they will enjoy, without having a specific direction,” Potes-Fellow said. “The purpose is education and the goal is graduation.”

Students will be required to choose a major at “a reasonable, early juncture” and students will be provided with “frequent degree audits.”

“One teacher was honest; he said ‘If we implement these suggestions, I will have to get rid of a few people in my department,’” Gowgani said.

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