Student Success Initiatives Drive CSU Growth and Recognition
In an era where barely half of the nation’s college students obtain a degree within six years, Cleveland State is all about student success — and innovative ways to help them graduate on time and with as little debt as possible. And students are responding in record numbers.
Bucking national trends, CSU welcomed more than 1,900 first-year students to campus fall semester — the largest freshman class in the University’s history and a five percent increase over 2015. Freshman enrollment has more than doubled since 2006.
In addition, CSU saw increases in both the number of returning students and the number of credit hours taken, indicating positive movement both for retention and graduation rates.
“Our continued increases in freshman enrollment illustrate CSU’s position as a top destination in Northeast Ohio for higher education,” says Cindy Skaruppa, vice president for enrollment services.
Urban setting and affordability are key reasons that students choose CSU. Also ranking high is CSU’s Engaged Learning experience, which links classroom instruction with experiential learning and career opportunities through business and community partnerships.
Perhaps most importantly, CSU has placed a priority on student success — developing an impressive range of initiatives over the last five years specifically designed to help students graduate on time and with less debt. These initiatives include:
CSU was the first state university in Ohio — and one of the first in the nation — to offer this option, which enables students to plan their entire academic year in advance.
Students can request enrollment in courses at full capacity by using an online waiting list. This also enables academic departments to track demand and open additional class sections as needed.
CSU reduced and standardized the number of credit hours needed to complete most baccalaureate degree programs, enabling students to graduate in less time, with less debt.
Community College Degree Acceptance
Students holding an associate degree from Tri-C, Lakeland or Lorain are guaranteed placement in their degree program at CSU. This accelerates the path to degree completion for transfer students.
Faculty and staff keep a close watch on the progress of individual students, particularly first-year students, and provide personalized support as needed to help them succeed.
Radiance provides “last dollars” for students who are at risk of dropping out of school because of a shortage of funds. Since its inception in 2011, Radiance has raised $4.8 million and provided approximately 1,500 scholarships.
CSU was awarded a $50,000 pilot grant from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities to create Last Mile, which provides funds to senior students who have maxed out of financial aid so they are able to complete their degrees.
With these and other initiatives, four-year graduation rates have doubled over the last five years.
Innovative student success initiatives also have brought CSU national recognition, including the 2015 Excellence and Innovation Award from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and positive media attention from CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Bloomberg Business and others.
In addition, the influential Brookings Institution named CSU in the top three of Ohio’s four-year public universities for “value-added” to earning power. According to Brookings, CSU graduates have mid-career salaries that are more than $10,000 higher than graduates from similar schools.
CSU is one of five national finalists for the 2016 Project Degree Completion Award from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. The award recognizes public universities across the country that employ innovative approaches to improve retention and degree completion and includes a $15,000 prize to further efforts to improve student outcomes.
CSU students are ranked among the smartest in Ohio, according to a report by the online college guide Niche. The report ranks universities based on SAT/ACT data and peer reviews. CSU finished sixth among public universities in the state.