Graduating college in four years is no longer considered the norm in terms of graduation rate. In the 2016 study done by Cal State Fullerton, first-time freshmen who planned to graduate in four years had a success rate of 22 percent, which is significantly lower than the six-year graduation rate of 62 percent.
The plummeting number of four-year plans is one of the main reasons why the term “super senior” has become a popular title for students on campus.
CSUF has been the number one school for California community college transfers for 15 of the last 18 years. However, transfer students are also struggling to graduate on time as only 32 percent graduate in two years and rises to 75 percent after four years, according to a study conducted by Sunny Moon.
Fullerton also has the largest number of enrolled students in the Cal State University system with more than 40,000 in 2017. This could be a reason why, according to Moon’s study, the number of earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees has risen every year since 2014.
CSUF is aware that its students take longer to graduate compared to the past, and there has been an initiative put into place to try to get graduation rates higher.
The Graduation Initiative 2025 outlines plans to increase the percentage of first-time freshman finishing in four years to rise to 44 percent, and have the six-year first-time freshman percentage at 75.
The initiative also includes transfer student’s graduation rates, increasing the two-year graduates to 44 percent and four-year students to 85 percent.
But why is it taking students longer to graduate? One reason could be that 38.6 percent of students attending CSUF are part-time students, taking 11 units or less, according to CSUF’s Institutional Research and Analytical Studies department.
If students need 120 credits to graduate, they cannot possibly finish in four years if they are taking fewer units than required to be full time. Students would need to take 15 units a semester (excluding winter and summer courses) to graduate within four years.
CSUF’s graduation initiative aims to raise graduation rates by increasing the number of summer classes, making it easier for students to find classes that fit within their criteria. This includes offering higher-unit online remedial courses in the summer.
Another strategy that CSUF outlines in the initiative is an expansion of the textbook rental program to cover more courses.
The university also wants to increase the number of student assistants on campus because its 2016 study showed that student assistants who work on campus graduate sooner than those who don’t.
Hiring additional staff for Student Success Teams, advisors and expanding training is another listed long-term strategy for CSUF, along with hiring peer mentors to bolster the academic transition program.
The Graduation Initiative 2025 is pushing for students to start graduating on time, within six years, and therefore pay less money for their education in the long run.