By Chelsea Galvez |Staff Writer|
The CSUSB website includes a headline link that promises incoming freshman, who sign a commitment contract, that they can graduate in four years.
When the student clicks on the link, they discover there are three obligations needed to sign up for the pledge.
These obligations include signing a 4-year pledge contract, promising to register for 15 units every quarter, and staying aware of the pledge obligations.
“CSUSB is committed to student success in several ways. The Four Year Graduation Pledge is one method that the university works to ensure that students are able to complete their degree in the allotted four years,” said Academic Advisor Ebony Staten.
According to Staten, interest in the program has grown tremendously. In 2010, there were 46 students enrolled in the program, but this number grew to 105 students in 2011, 251 students in 2012, and 401 students in 2013.
According to the school’s online document, the Four Year Pledge is only offered to freshmen, allows for priority registration, specialized advisement, as well as guaranteed course offerings to those who meet the specified requirements.
By doing so, the university commits to the idea that the student will be able to graduate within four years.
According to the official pledge, incoming freshmen must sign a contract which obligates them to take all qualifying exams, placement tests, take a minimum of 15 units per quarter, maintain a “C” average, enroll at scheduled times, meet with an advisor periodically, take courses as they are available and comply with all university policies.
“After four years of full time enrollment, if it is determined that required courses were not made available then that student will not be required to pay tuition or fees for subsequent terms needed to graduate. However, there have been no situations where a student has had this issue to date,” said Staten.
While there are many obligations required of students to reap the benefits of the Four Year Pledge, students who signed the contract believe they have really benefited from the program.
“The Four Year Pledge has been very beneficial to me and has allowed me to get all the necessary classes I need. It allowed me to get all the pre-requisites I needed for the nursing program in a timely manner,” said student Chelsea Smithfield.
“Without the four year pledge I can’t say for sure whether or not I would have gotten the classes when I did or whether I’d be in the nursing program today,” added Smithfield.
Conversely, students who were unable to comply with the requirements remain grateful for the pledge, even though it was only available to them for a short time.
“The pledge has been really beneficial to me the few quarters I was able to receive its benefits, but I definitely don’t think I will be graduating in four years because I am aiming at getting into the nursing program, which will set me back in graduation because it is a three year program and I have not been able to apply for it yet,” said student Hailey Barnett.
Students who participate in the program should be aware of the fine print and obligations required to graduate within four years.
According to Staten, some students who pledge find they are unable to graduate within four years when they become overwhelmed with work, family, a change in or of their majors and minors, and other unforeseen circumstances.
The university is looking for more ways to increase student access to programs like these to ensure students get to have a timely graduation.
“The university only provides this program to incoming freshmen, however, I am in the process of discussing the development of a 2-Year Graduation Pledge program for transfer students,” said Staten.
Staten is working on improving the program and broadening the eligible group, but made no definitive promises. “Stay tuned,” said Staten.
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