CSU San Marcos

I. Background Context

Since its founding two decades ago, CSU San Marcos has grown to over 7200 full-time students.  Although it struggled initially with growing its enrollment, its struggle is now the opposite, having expanded nearly 20% from 2005 to 2008.  Nearly 42% of its students are identified as under-represented minority students, and this year, for the first time, its Hispanic population exceeds 25%.  From a campus with primarily transfer students, it has evolved into one where first-time freshmen have exceeded transfers, with demand from both groups continuing to grow.

II. URM and non-URM graduation rates

The six-year graduation rate for the FTF cohort entering CSUSM in 2002 was 37.8 percent, with URM graduation rates approximately six percentage points lower.  However, because our year-to-year retention of URM students has risen with subsequent cohorts so that it now just about equals that of non-URM students, we believe that an increase to 45% is an appropriate goal for both groups by 2015.  For the same time period, we are projecting a 7% increase in the transfer graduation rate for both groups to 71.4%

III. Highlights of proposed actions

Since summer 2007, CSUSM has invested considerable energy assessing and improving our first-year programming.  The most visible manifestation has been our participation in a national program—Foundations of Excellence in the First Year (FoE).  As part of this program, we conducted an extensive self-study of our students' first year, which identified both areas where we exhibit "best practices" and areas for improvement (including more than a hundred prioritized action steps).  Because our own data and national research show a correlation among first-year practices, retention to the second year, and graduation, the recommendations from our FoE study provide a starting point for our plan.  The major recommendation was the formation of a First-Year Council (FYC) to  better coordinate first-year activities across the campus.  A number of the action steps listed in our plan will be undertaken or overseen by the First-Year Council, whose chair is part of the campus delivery team.  These action steps range from the development of a first-year website, to development of summer bridge and remediation programming, to plans for block-scheduling, among many others.

Major areas we will address for transfer students are college/program graduation rates, course availability, and advising.  Thus, we are looking to improve communication about student course needs and progress toward degree through the timely generation of data and leveraging CMS/Peoplesoft resources.   Two members of our delivery team—Pat Morris, research analyst in Institutional Planning and Analysis (and a core member of the FoE team), and April Grommo, campus project director for CMS—will play a key role working with colleges and other units on campus in improving our efficiency in course delivery and advising.

IV. Metrics to measure progress

  • FTF  and transfer retention rates (disaggregated for URM/non-URM)
  • Remediation rates (disaggregated for URM/non-URM)
  • Program graduation rates
  • Rates of enrollment in required courses (GE and major specific)
  • Advising/DARS usage
  • "Super Senior" graduation rates (not currently an issue, but we will monitor)

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