By Shannon Hernandez, May 17, 2022
Cal Poly Pomona held its annual leadership summit in March to compare and discuss the next steps to ensure student success for the university’s Graduation Initiative 2025. The discussion primarily focused on first-year and transfer students as the campus prepares for it’s fall 2022 incoming class.
The summit included educational leaders and faculty members from community colleges to discuss ideas on providing students with extra support in completing their educational journey.
In breakout rooms, educational leaders discussed topics such as graduation rates, new implementations, new ways to support students and lead them to graduation.
Every student has their own definition of what success means to them. The leadership summit is held to help students access tutoring, become critical thinkers and close the equity gap by ensuring that students have all the support they need to graduate.
Cecilia Santiago-González, assistant vice president for Strategic Initiatives for Student Success, was one of the leaders who spoke at the summit discussing the graduation initiative.
“This is the third year that the graduation initiative has taken place in the Cal State system which will end in 2025. So, we look at the cohorts that entered and will have enough time to graduate in four to six years by 2025. We also have the commitment to close the equity gaps to ensure that students of color and low-income students won’t be affected due to the gaps,” said Santiago-González.
The under represented minority gap in 2020 was 10.3% and has increased to 14%, which is what CPP is trying to decrease by adding student support services to ensure not only the closure of equity gaps, but a positive impact for students to succeed in their studies.
Freshmen and transfer students have different cohorts, which the Office of Student Success looks at when calculating these rates for the Graduation Initiative for 2025.
Jessica Wagoner, senior associate vice president for Enrollment Management and Services discussed the importance of providing support for students in an ever-changing environment due to the pandemic.
“We want to provide the most support now that we’re post-pandemic,” said Wagoner. “We offered credit/no credit because we understood that this was a difficult time for everyone. There were also a lot of funds to help students who had lots of losses during the pandemic in order for them to continue through with school.”
Wagoner also elaborated on how freshmen and transfer students in 2020 and 2021 transitioned through the challenges of the pandemic with solely being online. Many students struggled with registering for classes as there were no in-person meetings, so CPP had long advising hours to lead students toward their graduation path.
“We know that students have changed and want variety. Students post-pandemic have seen how things can be different with the online and then hybrid aspect and so we as a university need to continue to recognize that it is not 2019 anymore, and while the post-pandemic world is still adjusting, flexibility is needed,” said Wagoner.
Santiago-González mentioned that the new GE requirement Area F, which is an ethnic studies requirement that will be implemented, can impact transfer students particularly due to some community colleges having difficulties solidifying Area F into its curriculum.
“Some students will transfer in with Area F completed and some will not, and so we want to be proactive and support students by taking extra steps in order for transfer students to not be negatively impacted by this, such as taking extra classes when they arrive at Cal Poly,” said Santiago-Gonzalez.
At the summit, community college leaders expressed the difficulties of this new GE requirement as new professors would need to be hired to teach the courses, so the educational leaders collaborated on what steps they need to take to help students move forward with their education.
Santiago-Gonzalez and Wagoner defined success as the drive to complete the things individuals want in life. Whether it be attempting to take 15 units or stick with taking 12 a semester, the most important thing for students to do is feel empowered with their decisions for what’s best for them and their families to get to the next milestone of their journey.
Wagoner also mentioned that students might be afraid of asking for help as it may seem like a weakness. A great tool that students can use if they are afraid to ask questions is the CPP Planner, where students can plan their course roadmap toward graduation and have an advisor look over the progress to ensure that the right courses for a freshman or transfer student are set.
“I think it’s one of the best tools to use as a student here because it’s a way for a student to walk into our building and see their entire four-year roadmap planned out for them with plenty of opportunities to stay on track with summer and winter courses,” said Wagoner.
For more information on tools available for students, visit the Office of Student Success website.
Feature image by Nicolas Hernandez
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