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Cal Poly Pomona Makes Strong Progress on CSU’s Graduation Initiative

Cal Poly University

Pomona, CA – Cal Poly Pomona has made significant gains in its graduation rates and lowered equity gaps since the California State University Graduation Initiative 2025 was launched three years ago. The university was one of only two campuses to make progress on all six of those goals.

“Our guiding principle at Cal Poly Pomona is ‘One Team. One Goal. Student Success,’” said university President Soraya M. Coley. “Across campus, we have implemented an array of innovative strategies and programs to help our students succeed, such as enhancing academic advising, improving the use of data, and investing in the most in-demand courses. Thanks to this collective effort, we are now seeing results and are prepared to build on this tremendous progress. ”

To reach the GI 2025 goals, Cal Poly Pomona has focused its efforts in four key areas: course scheduling; investments in advising; adding more tenure-line faculty who can teach specialty classes, advise and mentor; and holistic student support, a partnership between Student Affairs and Academic Affairs.

Investments in analytics and course scheduling gave the university the ability to increase class sections for high-demand, bottleneck courses. Last year, 319 additional sections of these courses were offered compared with 2014-15, leading to an additional 11,415 seats filled by students.

Summer 2018 completion grants were awarded to 327 students who were 10 units or fewer from graduation. The grants covered tuition, books, parking, housing when needed, and an on-campus food allowance. The university also ensured that the courses those students needed to graduate would be taught, even if they had low enrollments. Participating students had a 93 percent graduation rate.

“Advising has been key,” said Terri Gomez, associate vice president for student success. A central component has been the creation of data systems and dashboards that allow administrators and advisors to disaggregate data.

“We now have a better sense of who our students are and where they are struggling, both in terms of courses and majors. We can track groups of students who enter as freshmen or transfers and track their progress over time,” said Gomez. “It’s much more manageable now that we can see smaller groups of students and see if anyone is in academic trouble, hasn’t taken the graduation writing exam or needs to apply for graduation. Then the advisors can make contact.”

On the student side, the university created a centralized advising center, the Bronco Advising Center, which provides integrated general advising and enrollment services, as well as centralized training and professional development for the college-based advisors; hired nine additional advisors; and created new online tools to help students to plan their path to graduation (MyPlanner and Schedule Builder).

The university is also heavily promoting the need to “Take 30” units per year to graduate on time. Since fall 2014, the number of first-time freshman taking at least 30 academic units has doubled to 44 percent.

Another important component is the college-based student success teams. Each college team includes the strategic leadership, academic and faculty advisors at each of the colleges; members of Academic Affairs providing training, resources, metrics and strategic direction; and  representatives Students Affairs providing student development, co-curricular engagement and holistic support and resources.

Cal Poly Pomona, known for its hands-on approach to learning, has approximately 26,000 students. Students work on average 20 hours per week, 76 percent are eligible to receive federal financial aid, and over 50 percent of students are the first in their family to attend college.

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