Student Success

                          Archaeological Field Methods take part in a Learn by Doing activity near the Pacific Ocean.

Image: Students in Anthropology 310: Archaeological Field Methods conduct excavations at a prehistoric habitation site near Avila Beach, CA. 

In higher education, student success is commonly defined as persistence in a bachelor’s degree program, leading to a timely completion of that program. For first-time first-year students, timely graduation would be in four to six years after admission to the university. The equivalent for new transfer students would be two to four years.

Defined this way, Cal Poly students are among the most successful in the California State University (CSU) system, yet all groups of students do not graduate at the same rate. There are point gaps between the graduation rates of underrepresented minority (URM) and non-URM students, between those of students receiving and not receiving Pell Grants, and between those of first-generation and non-first-generation students. Underlying all of these differences is a point gap between the graduation rates of male- and female-identifying students.

The following are several key graduation and retention rate measures. These rates are disaggregated on the dynamic Cal Poly Retention and Graduation Rates Dashboards site found here.
Percentage of first-time first-year students:
  • enrolled in Fall 2018 who graduated in four years: 61.3% 
  • enrolled in Fall 2016 who graduated in six years: 86.8% 
  • enrolled in Fall 2020 who were still enrolled in Fall 2022: 82.9% 
  • enrolled in Fall 2021 who were still enrolled in Fall 2022: 93.6% 
Percentage of new transfer students:
  • enrolled in Fall 2020 who graduated in two years: 38.9% 
  • enrolled in Fall 2018 who graduated in four years: 88.4%
Point gaps between six-year graduation rates of students first enrolled in Fall 2016:
  • URM students (80.3%) and non-URM students (88.3%): 8.0
  • Pell Grant recipients (81.4%) and non-Pell recipients (87.7%): 6.3
  • first-generation students (79.5%) and non-first-generation students (87.5%): 8.0
  • male-identifying students (83.7%) and female-identifying students (90.0%): 6.3

(Cal Poly defines a URM student as one whose race/ethnicity is Hispanic, African American, Native American, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or multi-racial with at least one of those four ethnicities.)

These statistics were produced by the Cal Poly Office of Institutional Research. Some of these figures can differ slightly from those provided by the CSU or the U.S. Department of Education because of the different reporting dates and URM definitions used by Cal Poly, the CSU, and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

The CSU Graduation Initiative has set ambitious graduation rate goals for all 23 campuses to achieve by the year 2025; Cal Poly’s goals are as follow:

  • First-time first-year 6-year graduation rate: 92%
  • Transfer 2-year graduation rate: 45%
  • Transfer 4-year graduation rate: 93%
  • Underrepresented Minority 6-year Gap: 0
  • Pell Grant Recipient 6-year Gap: 0
  • First-time first-year 4-year graduation rate: 71%


Last updated: 8/3/2023


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