By Destiny Torres
The official numbers are in and the number of students enrolled this semester tops 17,000 for the first time in California State University, Dominguez Hills history.
Actually, the numbers have been in since Sept. 23, the day of the official student census at CSUDH. But that doesn’t change the number: 17,027, 1,286 more than last fall.
The short-term impact of that enrollment spike is easy to gauge: less parking; more bodies on campus. The long-term impact is more difficult, particularly in arguably the most important aspect of these students’ collegiate lives: graduation
Whether greater enrollment means those students will graduate is what the university is grappling with and why it’s identifying those courses with high failure rates and attempting to focus on how to engage with students to help them succeed in those classes.
During a presentation at the Academic Senate meeting on Oct 23, Dr. Maruth Figueroa, interim associate VP for Retention, Academic Advising, and Learning, discussed how the university is trying to ensure the success of these students.
“With a larger class, we have more students that are potentially at-risk,” Figueroa said.
CSUDH was next to last in four-year graduation rates in the last figures released by the CSU that listed graduation data by campus. That 2018 data showed CSUDH’s four-year rate of 11.6 percent was higher than only Cal State Los Angeles’ 9.6 percent, and its six-year rate of 45 percent was higher than only Cal State Bakersfield’s 42.1 percent.
To meet its goal of improving its four-year graduation rate to 30 percent by 2035, first and second-year retainment is a critical component. Although CSUDH is above the national average when it comes to the number of students returning after their first year, there is still work to be done to ensure all students receive equal opportunities and reach completion.
“These students are here … and it is our responsibility to support them,” Figueroa said. “Not only ensuring that they have a positive [experience[ and are progressing in their educational journey here while they’re with us, but also success beyond Dominguez Hills.”
Alana Olschwang, the Associate VP of University Effectiveness, Planning, and Analytics, discussed how Dominguez Hills can increase student completion.
“The number one most significant factor in helping us to increase student completion really sits on our [D, F, Withdraw] rates,” Olschwang said.
A DFW rate is the number of students who finished with a D grade, F grade, or Withdrawal from a course. According to Olschwang, if a student gets two or more D’s, F’s or W’s in their first year, they are much less likely to complete college.
In Fall 2017, 69 percent of Dominguez Hills students had at least one DFW in their first year. In Fall 2018, that number went up to 76 percent.
To improve on this, directors of the advisement center will conduct assessments to reflect on current practices and what’s working.
“The campus is re-implementing the Toro Success Collaborative to bring more advanced communication tools to advisors, early alert systems, as well as predictive analytics to reach out to students who may need additional support,” Olschwang said.