First-Year Success in the CSU

Spring Convening 2018


Friday, April 13, 2018
California State University, Northridge


Why focus on first-year student success

Research has long shown that the first year is a critical time for students. Creating a sense of belonging and ensuring early academic success are key predictors of continued enrollment and degree completion. Although systemwide first-year retention rates are rising throughout the CSU, stubborn challenges remain, including equity gaps. Meeting the CSU’s equity and completion goals warrants a more nuanced and population-specific understanding of first-year success strategies.


Intended learning outcomes:

This convening provided an opportunity to engage in data-driven reflection and sharing, with a focus on closing equity gaps in first-year student success. Participants used their own institutional data to critically examine outcomes across student groups with a particular eye towards students of color, Pell-eligible students, and first generation students. The convening also explored strategies for conducting conversations about equity gaps on campus and provide opportunities to work with colleagues from across the CSU to strategize around concrete opportunities for improvement.


  • Built relationships with colleagues from across the CSU who are involved in campus-level efforts to build and strengthen first-year student success.
  • Used data to develop a better understanding of first-year student experiences and outcomes.
  • Identified and shared current successes and challenges related to first-year students and explore implications for student success and equity.
  • Reflected as campus teams and applied learnings to individual campus needs and contexts.

Participating campuses:

  • Bakersfield
  • Chico
  • Dominguez Hills
  • East Bay
  • Fresno
  • Fullerton
  • Humboldt
  • Long Beach
  • Northridge
  • Pomona
  • Sacramento
  • San Bernardino
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • San Marcos


Terra Thorne Headshot
Contact: Terra Thorne, Convenings Director



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