CSU San Marcos has a number of programs and initiatives aimed at increasing the success of our freshmen population. Examples include the GEL program, summer programs, learning communities, co-curricular programs in University Village and Student Leadership and Life (e.g., Monday Night Dinners, Orientation Programming, Welcome Week activities), the creation of a new on-line academic planning tool (Lower-Division Roadmaps, or LDRs), increased training and certification for our math and writing tutors in the Centers for Learning and Academic Support Services, more centralized oversight of students completing the remediation process by a newly hired First-Year Academic Support Coordinator, and the creation of a new Office of First-Year Programs. Although these various examples represent considerable collaboration between Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, our efforts remain relatively decentralized and we have yet to develop a campus-wide framework, vision and assessment process for the Cal State San Marcos freshman year.
With the above in mind, the Office of First-Year Programs received funding for our campus to participate in the Foundations of Excellence® in the First College Year, a project developed by the Policy Center on the First Year of College. We applied to the Policy Center and were one of 13 four-year institutions selected to participate in this year's National Select Cohort for Foundations of Excellence®. Participation in this project is allowing our campus to undertake a comprehensive year-long (Aug. 2007-Aug.2008) self-study and improvement planning process to enhance the first year of college on our campus. The Policy Center uses an aspirational model to guide campuses through an internal assessment of all programs, policies and practices relevant to the first year of college. This model consists of nine "Foundational Dimensions" representing key aspects of the first year of college.
By the end of the self-study year, we will have developed an action plan which will help us to improve the first year at San Marcos and make it a foundation for excellence in every year at San Marcos.