November 2016 Newsletter: SJSU Adds Advisors, New Online Tools

Photo: David Schmitz San Jose State University Spartan Scholars students attended classes and study sessions during summer 2015. The program is one of dozens of initiatives in SJSU's Four Pillars of Student Success plan.

Photo: David Schmitz
San Jose State University Spartan Scholars students attended classes and study sessions during summer 2015. The program is one of dozens of initiatives in SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success plan.

As San Jose State University works to enhance advising on campus, efforts have been made in both increasing the number of professional advisors available to students as well as expanding online advising tools. The university is recruiting and hiring 20 additional professional advisors with plans to add advising staff in each of the college’s student success centers. The colleges have determined common goals for the success centers and responsibilities for the new advisors to ensure all students get the support they need.

“The need for the university to improve access to advisors was a strong and recurring theme from the campus community as the Four Pillars of Student Success plan was being created,” said Stacy Gleixner, AVP for the Office of Faculty and Student Success. “This showed up in all the focus groups, the Campus Climate survey and the National Survey for Student Engagement results. These new advisors will ensure students have the opportunity to connect face to face with a professional to help them make sense of the curriculum, sort through their own personal issues, and stay on track for graduation.”

The university launched a suite of online tools to support students in planning out their graduation pathways in spring 2016. Called MyGPS (Graduation Pathway to Success), the suite of tools includes:

  • MyRoadmap – allows students to see the required classes for their major and provides a four-year pathway for freshmen and a two-year pathway for transfer students to complete a 120-unit degree.
  • MyProgress – allows students to see their own progress toward completing GE and major requirements as well as courses they still need to complete for graduation.
  • MyScheduler – a scheduling tool that allows students to create and compare multiple class schedules as well as other commitments such as work, sports or family obligations.
  • MyGradApp (pilots of online graduation application in three colleges) – creates a more efficient way for students to apply for graduation compared to the current hardcopy paperwork they are required to file.

Academic Affairs and Information Technology staff members are working together to add another tool to MyGPS in fall 2017 that will be piloted in select majors. The MyPlanner tool will allow students to plan out a personalized plan for their entire SJSU career. It will be especially helpful in allowing students to see the impact that each course they select will have on pre-requisites and course sequences and their intended graduation date. It will further familiarize students with the need to take at least 15 units each semester for first-year students to complete a degree in four years or for transfer students to complete a degree in two years.

Through awareness efforts this summer with #FinishInFour, the number of first-year students taking at least 15 units doubled from last year. The average unit load has increased by 0.5 units for new students and is up 0.2 units for continuing undergraduates.

“Together the combination of the MyGPS tools and the additional advisors will help students connect the degree requirements with their own personal situations to create a clear path to graduation that works for them,” Gleixner said. “Advisors will be able to monitor and work with students throughout their SJSU career to help them stay on this path.”

San Jose State receives $2M for Student Success

San Jose State University is one of a dozen Bay Area institutions to receive funding from the Koret Foundation as part of a multi-year $50 million initiative to support higher education.

SJSU will receive $2 million from the Koret Foundation to support student success, with University Advancement’s Tower Foundation administering the gift. The influx of funding comes on the heels of the recently released SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success: College Readiness, Advising, Student Engagement and Clearing Bottlenecks plan. The data-driven campus-wide student success strategy has one goal: to significantly increase retention and graduation rates for all students while improving the quality of their educational experience.

The $2 million has been earmarked to support college readiness, advising and student engagement at San Jose State. It will be used to create a new student information analytics system that will improve advising and to support the Spartan Scholars Program, a newly launched summer bridge program that is aimed at increasing retention and graduation of underrepresented and first-generation students.

SJSU’s Four Pillars plan was created by Provost Andy Feinstein and Vice President for Student Affairs Reggie Blaylock, with input from multiple campus stakeholders, including students. The plan was highlighted in a recent NPR story in which Feinstein shared that the university is offering up to 500 additional course sections to help students make progress toward degree (with funding from the university’s general fund.)

“They (SJSU students) are the inspiration that keeps me going and get me up in the morning,” he said, during the NPR interview.

According to its press release, Koret believes that education not only enables individual success and mobility, but also helps build a vibrant Bay Area. The initiative addresses a number of high priority needs at each institution, including capital, research, scholarships, technology, and recruiting, advising, and retention programs for low-income, first-generation students.

“The Koret Foundation is proud to fund this initiative that builds on and expands our longstanding commitment to these important Bay Area academic institutions,” said Michael Boskin, President of the Koret Foundation. “This program is designed to be a catalyst for new approaches to optimize student success, improve completion rates, and bolster career advancement opportunities, particularly among underserved populations.”

Read the full press release and view an outline of the initiatives at all of the higher education institutions partnering with Koret online.

Based in San Francisco, the Koret Foundation supports civic, cultural, and educational organizations that promote a vibrant and distinctive Bay Area. Koret focuses its giving in two major areas: strengthening Bay Area anchor institutions and fostering Jewish connection and identity. Since its founding in 1979, Koret has invested $500 million to contribute to a higher quality of civic and Jewish community life. For more information, visit http://www.koretfoundation.org/

May 2016 Newsletter: Student Success Centers Support Advising

College student success centers provide general education advisement and other resources for students. Here, Career Center Advisor Lynn Chang discusses potential career paths with Raghev Srivastava, ’15 Philosophy.

College student success centers provide general education advisement and other resources for students. Here, Career Center Advisor Lynn Chang discusses potential career paths with Raghev Srivastava, ’15 Philosophy.

Gisela Gray-Peoples joined the College of Humanities and the Arts Student Success Center as interim director a year ago, but she has been involved in student advising for years, first as an advisor in Academic Advising and Retention Services and later while teaching what she refers to as “academic bootcamps,” Science 2 and 90T.

She said she likes the college-based success center approach. The success centers were supported by the Academic Affairs Educational Excellence and Student Experience priority group work from 2014-16 and will be integral to supporting SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success advising pillar.

“It is good because it allows us to form closer bonds with both faculty and students,” she said. “It allows us to work with the students, first by giving information on their general education, answering any questions about university policy and helping them to follow roadmaps. We then send them off to see their major advisor to learn specific information about their major.”

In the fall 2015 semester, H&A’s Student Success Center had 2,131 visits with students and Gray-Peoples said the word is still getting out about the one-year old center.

“We can help them to get their questions answered and connect to resources,” she said.

The staff comprises two full-time advisors, a part-time advisor and three student peer advisors who provide general education advising with referrals to other places on campus for questions outside their expertise.

The space also provides support for faculty members, Gray-Peoples said, noting that she recently hosted a “Graduation 101” session for faculty advisors. H&A faculty members heard from representatives in the registrar’s office about the steps students need to take to apply for graduation, and how to submit major and substitution forms.

“It helps faculty and students alike,” she said. “We can make sure we know what all the common problems are so we can be more proactive as opposed to reactive.”

Gray-Peoples said the center staff members are working on marketing their services to all H&A students and plan to have more workshops on different subjects in the fall semester.

SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success

Dear Campus Community,

For the past year, we have collaborated and gathered information from faculty, staff, students and other experts, to develop a data-driven campus-wide student success strategy with one goal: to significantly increase our retention and graduation rates for all students while improving the quality of their educational experience. Our 57 percent six-year and 10 percent four-year graduation rates, and a double digit underrepresented minority student graduation rate gap are not acceptable. We owe it to our students, their families, taxpayers, employers and our community to improve.

We have developed a plan to accomplish this. We encourage you to review “SJSU’s Four Pillars of Student Success: College Readiness, Advising, Student Engagement and Clearing Bottlenecks,” which highlights our process in developing the plan and details of each pillar.

Public universities across the nation are striving to improve graduation rates, and provide an educated workforce. It’s a huge challenge, and now, SJSU is on the road to a meaningful solution on our campus. We look forward to working with you to enhance the success of every SJSU student.

Sincerely,

Andy Feinstein, Provost and Reggie Blaylock, VP for Student Affairs