Return to Program Profiles California Lutheran University

California Lutheran University's initiative was built on the university’s federally-funded TRIO program that had operated for 20 years but never specifically targeted first-generation transfer students.  In 2008, a cohort of first-generation transfer students was introduced into an already successful summer bridge program.  The students lived on campus for one week, worked with a Transfer Student Leader, and spent the days in sessions on topics such as how to be a successful transfer student, time management, financial aid, and how to register for classes. Participants forged strong bonds with other transfer students as well as faculty members, staff, and students. The program also provided students with opportunities to explore career and graduate school options.
These students received scholarships and were actively recruited to participate in Student Support Services (SSS).
A key feature of the program was the effort to link the university’s program with the Extended Opportunity Program and Services (EOPS) of area community colleges. Since these programs serve similar populations in the SSS program at California Lutheran, this was a natural fit. CLU staff visited the EOPS staff on community college campuses, hosted them at CLU, and prepared information to be sent to other colleges.
California Lutheran also purchased a software package and employed a student assistant to produce articulation agreements with area community colleges. There are now fully articulated agreements with 11 community colleges, which has greatly eased transfer student concerns about academic progress.


Program Outcomes

The first-to-second-year retention rate of first-generation transfer students who participated in SSS was 75 percent compared with the retention rate for all first-generation students of 69 percent between spring 2008 and fall 2008. In 2009, 90 percent of first-generation transfer participants were retained or graduated. In 2010, the figure was 85 percent.
Equally important, the program helped improve admission rates. The CIC/Walmart Award enabled the university to successfully collaborate with local community colleges to increase the number of first-generation students who transferred to the university from community college—this program’s targeted campus population. For the 2008–2009 academic year, 46 first-generation transfer students applied to the university. That number increased to 86 for the 2009–2010 academic year.
The institution also was strengthened by the collaboration with community colleges, with which new articulation agreements were negotiated.


Program Updates

First-generation transfer students often are commuter students with sizable work commitments. Thus, they are a group that requires significant personal attention. It was challenging to schedule events that served their needs. Efforts are now being made to increase the level of participation in SSS activities. Various aspects of California Lutheran’s program have been institutionalized and are continuing.