CHASS Connect Success

By Briana Van Havermaat, Student Intern of CHASS College Computing

A program that developed four years ago on the UCR campus has made an enormous impact on students in several different ways and still continues to do so. When it began in 2002 CHASS Connect was only available to undeclared freshmen, but over the past four years the program has changed and grown and is now available to all incoming freshmen.

Students in the program are involved in a yearlong sequence where they explore a common theme or idea over Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters. They have the opportunity to examine several disciplines, possibly helping them to decide on a major more quickly. The classes are taken with the same group of freshman throughout the year allowing the new students to exist within a smaller community at UCR. Students are also assigned peer mentors who can help them with any problems they run into during the course of the program. These peer mentors went through CHASS Connect themselves when they were freshmen so their help is valid and useful to the new freshmen.

Studies show that CHASS Connect has improved student education at UCR in numerous ways. Retention (as measured by the number of academic quarters completed) is statistically significantly greater for CHASS Connect students than for the comparison group by between ten (2002) and six (2003) percent. CHASS Connect students are statistically significantly more likely to pass the entry-level writing requirement (having not passed prior to admission at UCR) than the comparison group by eleven percent (2002 and 2003). Among students who have not declared a major prior to admission at UCR, CHASS Connect students declare a major sooner (in terms of quarters since admission) than the comparison group by between eleven (2002) and four (2003) percent. CHASS Connect students also have significantly higher grade point averages at UCR than the comparison group. This is true of the cumulative grade point average for all admitted students—by between seven (2002) and nine (2003) percent—as well as for students who have been present on campus continuously since admittance—by between three (2002) and four (2003) percent.

Besides the statistical confirmation that CHASS Connect has a positive effect on students, there are other things that the program offers them. Geoff Cohen, the 1 st Year Experience Coordinator believes, “ Community practices are an important benefit for students and the University.” He explained that many Resident Advisors and Program Coordinators in the dorms are CHASS Connect alumni. Several CHASS Connect Alumni have also become involved in Student Life and CHASS Student Affairs. When the program first started the main goal was to raise student’s success at UCR, and with the help of faculty and peer mentors the program continues to do this year after year. Cohen also stated, “ The success is seen in the fact that students are making progress and staying at the university all four years.”

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