Campus: CSU Stanislaus -- December 12, 2001

University Retention and Graduation Rates Show Steady Increases at CSU, Stanislaus

More California State University, Stanislaus students stay on track and graduate, thanks to greater support on campus for their needs.

Student retention became a major priority at CSU Stanislaus when Dr. Marvalene Hughes assumed the presidency in 1994. Efforts aimed at keeping students once they enroll have paid off since then, as evidenced by the increasing number of first-year students who return for their sophomore year. The freshman class of 1990 had a 75.6 percent return rate, which increased to 81.2 percent in 2000.

That puts CSU Stanislaus well above the national norm of 68.1 percent for four-year universities and on a higher level with more selective public universities.

"CSU Stanislaus has been very responsive to the needs of first-year students as they make the transition to university life," President Hughes said. "Increased resources have been provided to a number of programs aimed at helping students and making them feel welcome."

More students graduate in four years by maintaining a flexible approach to required class schedules, university statistics through 1996 show. The four-year graduation rate for freshmen entering in 1996 increased to 22.3 percent, up 9.4 percent over the 1990 class mark of 12.9 percent.

President Hughes credits the University's faculty and staff with providing improved support programs that focus on helping students get through their first year and then getting on track to graduate in four years. A new Student Success Center established this fall concentrates on providing ways to continually upgrade and fine-tune the student experience.

Students have access to English and mathematics tutoring, advising, and a variety of workshops, in addition to a one-stop process in enrollment services that cuts down on the paperwork. Before they start classes, students experience streamlined orientation and registration programs and many participate in the Summer Bridge program that helps them prepare for the rigors of University academics.

The committee also is taking a closer look at how student ethnicity and academic curriculum factors impact retention rates.

The university's First Year Programs and Advising office has been an effective tool to focus thoughtful and purposeful resources on first-year student retention and success. A First-Year Experience team composed of faculty and staff has explored innovative ways to make students feel welcome, make campus onnections with faculty and fellow students, navigate the university, and enhance academic preparation.

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