College Readiness

Pillar One: College Readiness


College ReadinessThrough focus groups with students, staff, faculty and administrators, along with the Campus Climate Survey and research on why students leave before completing a degree, key concerns have been identified around college readiness. Concerns include the high percentage of students needing remediation in math, English or both; a need to expand highly-effective summer transition programs; and the need for stronger partnerships between K-12 schools, community colleges and SJSU to ensure students are prepared for college-level work when they arrive at SJSU.

College readiness at SJSU is a complex and multifaceted enterprise with more than a quarter of our incoming students identifying as first-generation and 37 percent as an underrepresented minority. As a campus, SJSU must continue to provide access to higher education for the many low-income and underserved populations coming to the campus from within and outside of Santa Clara County.

Students who entered SJSU in fall 2014 needing remediation earned an average of 17.5 units within the first year on campus, short of the 30 units needed annually to graduate within four years. In the fall of 2015, 36 percent of first-time freshmen at SJSU were in need of remediation in math, English, or both. Starting with a pilot in 2015-16 and a full campus roll out in 2016-17, the Department of English and Comparative Literature has completely redesigned their first-year English course. SJSU no longer offers remedial English courses. All students choose between a one-semester or two-semester (Stretch English) first-year writing course. Students determine which is the best course option by completing a Directed Self Placement (DSP) before their summer orientation program.

The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Summer Bridge has been extremely successful at increasing the SJSU remediation competency completion and retention rate among EOP double remedial students. Since its reintroduction in 2012, the program has had an 89 percent retention rate (or higher) across its last three cohorts and a 100 percent remediation completion among its participants. Access to the program is limited to 60 EOP students each year. The Summer Bridge Program provides a five-week intensive, on-campus curriculum of remediation, study skills and an opportunity to prepare for college-level work. Participants progress as a cohort through their freshman year with enrollment in a first-year experience class and a year-long Stretch English course.

In addition, some first-year experience programs exist for first-time freshmen and transfer students, but opportunities to participate are limited. Examples include Science 2 and Science 90, classes that teach study skills for first-time freshmen and transfer students while also meeting an Area E General Education requirement, and the Lucas College of Business’ first-year experience that provides an iPad as an incentive for students to engage in extracurricular activities.


The following plan looks at college readiness from a perspective of pre-admission, admission and post-admission efforts. These efforts could further reduce the number of students who need remediation and will provide opportunities for SJSU to remove its gap in educational equity by 2025.

  • Increase outreach to pre-admission K-12 students to create a college-going culture in Santa Clara County
    • Expand existing programs such as College Day; African
      American College Readiness Summits; the Advancing Latino/as Achievement and Success (ALAS) Conference.
    • Expand Admission Possible workshops for high school
      sophomores with SJSU admission counselors.
    • Create programs that support Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native American student recruitment.
    • Create a Spartan “shadow” program for prospective high school students to visit SJSU, attend classes with current students and dine on campus.
    • Implement Spartan East Side Promise and expand outreach efforts to students in the East Side Union High School District.
    • Create a centralized welcome center for prospective students and their families that provides a positive first impression of campus.
    • Provide a weekend campus tour option for prospective students.
    • Increase partnerships with K-12 schools to improve the college readiness of high school graduates through curriculum development and focused, college readiness programming that enhances preparation for and response to the Early Assessment Program.
    • Launch the Student Success Summit focused on strengthening partnerships between K-12, SJSU, and legislators. Pilot programs to address college readiness with the Student Success Summit partners will be developed and assessed.
  • Increase support services for admitted students:
    • Host additional admitted student receptions at select off-campus locations that are beyond driving distance to campus to share resources for college readiness such as Early Start and DSP.
    • Expand the Spartan Scholars Program to serve low-income students who require remediation in math, English, or both subjects with a five-week residential summer transition program.
    • Evaluate best practices for integrating CSU Early Start with other SJSU support services.
  • Increase support services for enrolled students:
    • Enhance the reach of the Writing Center through increased personnel and online opportunities, such as online video tutorials, embedded writing fellows in 100W courses, and a writing support supplemental instruction model for first-year composition and Stretch English courses.
    • Create a common definition for first-year experience courses, including revising existing university policies. Pilot different models of FYE and assess their impact on student success.
    • Increase access to first-year experience opportunities that are proven to work that help to connect students to the campus, give them tools to navigate the many resources available to them and teach them valuable study skills that will make them successful throughout their college career and develop programs to support mid-career students.
    • Increase the number of Peer Mentors who support freshmen classes and help first-year students learn to navigate SJSU.
    • Redesign the developmental math sequence and pedagogy.
      Implement redesigned developmental math pedagogies into Early Start and summer bridge programs.
    • Enhance the awareness and utilization of academic success services including peer tutoring and mentoring to all students.
    • Utilize a non-cognitive assessment tool to provide focused academic success support to all first semester students.

Pillar-Specif Metrics*:

  • Increase the number of students who complete summer
    transition programs.

  • Increase the number of students and families who attend college-readiness programs such as College Day, African American College Readiness Summits and ALAS.

  • Increase number of participants in K-12 outreach programming.

  • Increase the number of students who accept admission to SJSU after completing college readiness programs.

  • Increase participation in student services offered by Peer Connections, EOP, Military and Veteran Student Services and other selected resources; increase retention rate and GPA of students who utilize these services.

  • Increase the retention rate and GPA of students who participate in a first-year experience.
    Reduce the percentage of incoming students who require remediation at the start of the fall semester.

  • Decrease the average time to complete GE English and math courses.

  • Increase the GE math grades of students admitted with remedial math needs.

  • Decrease the percentage of students needing remediation from schools involved in the Student Success Summit partnerships.



SJSU has committed nearly $2.4 million to support college readiness programs. Notably, $1.5 million from the Student Success, Excellence and Technology Fee has been committed to the Spartan Scholars Program, a summer bridge program, for 2015-17. The Spartan Scholars Program received additional support from the Koret Foundation ($800,000). The Program is open to all Pell grant-eligible students who are in need of remediation, with plans to expand in the future. Programs designed to increase participation among underrepresented groups, such as the Eastside Promise Program, Advancing Latino/as Achievement and Success (ALAS) Conference, College Day and the African American College Readiness Summit received more than $350,000. The remaining funds support enhancements to the Peer Mentoring program, which aids the transition to college, and a complete makeover of the SJSU Welcome Center. Additional resources will be needed to maintain and expand college readiness programs and to increase support services for admitted/enrolled students.


Expanding summer transition programs, establishing fall college readiness forums, collaborating with K-12 schools on partnerships such as the Spartan East Side Promise and other work with local schools will ensure first-year freshmen are prepared for college-level work without the need for remediation or repeating key courses when they arrive at SJSU from high school or community colleges. Associate Vice President for Transition and Retention Services Debra Griffith is leading the College Readiness pillar.