FORT COLLINS — It’s one thing to enroll in college. The bigger challenge is ensuring that students learn deeply while they are there and graduate in a timely manner. For students who would be the first in their families to earn a bachelor’s degree or come from low-income or minority backgrounds, the challenges are even greater.
Colorado State University has been focused on helping students meet these challenges since 1998 with programs such as Key Communities, and has a wealth of data to demonstrate its success. The public is invited to see how CSU has improved student success — including graduation and retention rates for all students — at a poster session in the Great Hall of The Institute of Learning and Teaching on the CSU Oval at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 8.
This will be the first stop on Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia’s statewide tour celebration of programs that help students complete their undergraduate education. Key Communities is among eight programs dedicated to higher education success being celebrated by the Colorado Department of Higher Education as part of the Colorado Completes campaign.
Prior to the public event, the lieutenant governor will have lunch with students and alumni of Key Communities, who will talk about the effect of the program on their lives. He will also meet some of the key faculty, staff and administrators who have been involved in the first-year experience redesign that encompasses Key Communities as well as programs that positively engage all students at Colorado State.
Then the entire campus and Fort Collins community is invited to see the breadth and depth of CSU student success for themselves in the Great Hall.
Restructuring the first-year experience
The broad, comprehensive and coordinated institutional commitment to student success at CSU can be seen in the data. Since restructuring the first-year experience through Key Communities began in 2007, the retention of new students to the second year has increased by more than 4 percentage points, from 82.5.percent to 86.6 percent.
These students are also continuing on to their third, fourth and fifth years at higher rates. In fact, the six-year graduation rate for participants in Key Communities is nearly 10 percentage points higher than for students of similar backgrounds who did not choose to participate in Key.
“Access to higher education is a foundational part of Colorado State’s land-grant mission,” explained Alan Lamborn, former Provost for Undergraduate Affairs who helped initiate the student success initiatives. “What Key Communities and our Student Success Initiatives demonstrate is that once students come to campus, we also have the ability to help them achieve their goals not only for individual success but also to transform their lives so they can learn deeply and contribute to the common good beyond graduation.”
More important than ever
An undergraduate education is more important than ever: By 2020, 74 percent of Colorado jobs will require some postsecondary credential. At Colorado State, 25 percent of all students are the first in their family to go to college.
Other campuses to be visited by Lt. Gov. Garcia during his tour include:
- Aims Community College (Catalyst second semester program)
- Community College of Aurora (Student Success Center)
- CSU Pueblo (Denver Scholarship Foundation Program)
- University of Colorado Boulder (CU LEAD Alliance Academic Neighborhoods)
- University of Northern Colorado (University 101)
- Western State Colorado University (PRIME-Promoting Readiness in Mathematics and English)
- Pueblo Community College (partnership with St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center).
These programs were selected from 30 submissions by colleges and universities across the state. All will be featured on a Department of Higher Education webpage and highlighted via social media using the hashtag #CoCompletes throughout October.
Student success is at the heart of the state’s higher education master plan, and this campaign attempts to capture success stories as measured against goals in this plan.