Four-year grad rates rank in system’s top ten

Four-year grad rates rank in system’s top ten

By Steven Barker
Managing Editor

Image By Casey Webb/The Runner

While California State University, Bakersfield’s four-year graduation rates have slowly improved during the last nine years, Dr. Horace Mitchell, president of CSUB, says six-year graduations are the national standard for academic performance.

However, of students that remain enrolled at CSUB past their fourth year, the percentage that 4-yeargraduate has plummeted.

According to a report released by the California State University Chancellor’s Office, CSUB’s six-year graduation rates have dropped from 44.5 percent in 2008 to 38.6 percent in 2012. Additionally, a 1998-2003 report of six-year graduation rates revealed that, of the four schools comparable to CSUB in terms of student body size and ethnic diversity – Dominguez Hills, Humboldt, Monterrey Bay and Stanislaus –CSUB’s six-year rates were the second-lowest in that group.

By the 2012-2013 academic year, CSUB’s six-year graduation rates were 12.8 percent lower than the system-wide average of 51.4 percent.

Dr. Richard Collins, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, and Dr. John Emery, dean of the School of Business and Public Administration, agree that the difficulty of balancing life and college-level coursework plays a significant role in student graduation.

Image by Casey Webb/The Runner

“Our students have complicated lives,” Collins wrote in an email. “Their average age, while falling, tends to be higher than at other campuses like Chico or San Diego, and many of them have families and jobs and other complicating factors.”

“Life gets complicated,” Emery said. “Just, life intervenes.”

“A lot of students take the scenic route, where they have to drop out and work, or you have a broken romance and your broken heart messes you up for a half-a-year or something; that’s just life,” Emery continued.

Steve Walsh, coordinator of the Summer Bridge program, says the discrepancy between CSUB and the CSU system is not reflective of the quality of CSUB’s academic programs.

“As for the 10 percent difference, it is not that we offer a sub-par educational experience,” Walsh said in an email. “Our staff are dedicated and creative, our faculty are gifted, our leadership is visionary, our programs are self-evaluative and relevant to the world of work. We create and innovate.”

Mitchell thinks CSUB’s rates have, in fact, already begun to rise. Since the report’s earliest information reflects the six-year graduation rates of the freshman class of 2006, Mitchell thinks CSUB’s implementation of new academic programs has positively affected freshman that have enrolled at CSUB since that time.

He also believes CSUB’s commitment to improving the academic experience of its students will reflect positively on the university’s rates when the reports are updated. No date has been given such an update to the reports. “As we continue to have a focus, an increasing focus, on students’ success, retention and graduation now, we anticipate these rates to go up over the next several years,” Mitchell said.