The CSU’s Enrollment Management Policy and Practices

16 10 2009

Office of the Chancellor
Academic Affairs, Student Academic Support
Admission Priorities: 09.19.02

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What Is Enrollment Management?

It is the intent of the Legislature that each California resident with the capacity and motivation to benefit from postsecondary education has the opportunity to enroll in a public four-year college. The Master Plan for Higher Education was designed to assure access to all qualified students either at the California Community Colleges, the California State University, or the University of California and delineates the roles and tasks of the segments to achieve this goal.

The goal of CSU enrollment management policies is to preserve CSU’s mission to provide access to all first-time freshman and upper-division transfer students who meet CSU’s admission eligibility requirements within the constraints of campus capacity and budgeted resources. Our mission requires CSU to continue to accept all first-time freshmen in the upper one-third of the state’s high school graduates and all upper-division transfer students who earn a 2.0 GPA in at least 56 transferable semester units. In addition, access for certain postbaccalaureate and graduate students should be maintained. The objective is to ensure that CSU enrollment management policies enable CSU to respond to statutory requirements and trustee enrollment management policies within local circumstances.

CSU’s enrollment management policies are designed to assist eligible first-time freshman and upper-division transfer students to attend their first-choice CSU campus and to enroll in their chosen major. With the exception of certain high demand majors, programs, and campuses, nearly all students who meet CSU admission requirements are admitted to their first-choice campus or major. However, when students cannot be accommodated at their first-choice campus or in their major, CSU guarantees admission to a campus within the California State University.

Therefore, enrollment management is a series of steps and strategies that campuses use at their discretion either to increase enrollment or to control enrollment by limiting the number of students admitted prior to requesting major, program, or campus impaction and the use of supplementary admission criteria to screen applicants.

In developing effective and sensible enrollment management plans, campuses must comply with state statute that outlines the enrollment priorities CSU must follow to the extent practicable. California Community College upper-division transfer students who have successfully concluded a course of study in an approved transfer agreement program receive priority over all other applicants to the CSU. In addition, campuses need to consider fall, winter, spring, and summer graduations, expected attrition (e.g., spring-to-fall and fall-to-spring), and differing and changing flows of applications and enrollment yields.

Campuses that need to manage their enrollment typically implement one or more of the following commonly used enrollment management steps:

  • Cease accepting applications at the conclusion of the priority admission application filing date;
  • Cease accepting applications at a date subsequent to the priority filing date;
  • Cease accepting applications when a determined number of applications sufficient to fill the enrollment category has been received.

What Is Impaction?

An undergraduate major, program, or campus is designated as impacted when the number of applications received from fully qualified applicants during the initial admission application filing period exceeds the number of available spaces that the campus can accommodate in the major, program, or campus given the instructional resources and physical capacity of the campus. Consideration for admission to any impacted major or campus is contingent on first meeting the regular admission requirement for the CSU. Supplementary admission criteria are used to screen all applicants for admission to impacted majors, programs, and campuses, including those students currently enrolled at the campus in other majors and seeking access to the impacted major. The initial filing periods for CSU are described below:

Term and Initial Filing Period

Fall:  October 1 – November 30 of the previous year*

Winter: June 1 through 30 of the previous year

Spring: August 1 through 31 of the previous year

Summer: February 1 through 28 of the same year

*  Fall applications received before October will be considered initial filing period applications and will be processed with and receive the same priority as applications received between October 1 through November 30.

When a program or campus receives more eligible applicants during the initial admission application filing period than can be accommodated, the program or campus is considered “impacted” and are authorized to use supplementary admission criteria to screen applicants. While this is an enrollment management tool because it is a strategy to control enrollment, impaction requires approval by the chancellor. Program impaction has enabled most CSU campuses to manage enrollment pressures.

Campuses with “program impaction” may include supplemental admission criteria approved by the chancellor in their enrollment management plans. Such criteria may use a multi-valued selection process developed by the faculty that combines academic factors with other objective values to comprehensively review all program applicants for admission. Applicants will compete for admission against other applicants applying to the same impacted major or program. Decisions will be based on the available spaces in each major or program. For program impaction to function effectively, campuses must be willing to evaluate change of major requests according to the supplemental admission requirements.

A campus may be designated as impacted in one or more enrollment categories only if the campus can demonstrate that it has exhausted existing enrollment capacity by implementing such approaches as flexible scheduling and year-round operations, expanding distance learning and use of technology, increasing the capacity of existing off-campus centers, establishing new centers, and using facilities imaginatively, but not at the expense of regular campus maintenance and capital outlay needs.

Campuses may use both campus impaction and program impaction simultaneously. For example, a campus could be “campus impacted” for first-time freshmen and use selected “program impaction” for upper-division transfers. In this example, both upper-division transfers and students currently enrolled at the campus would be required to meet the same supplemental admission criteria for admission to an impacted program at the upper-division level.

An important element of CSU enrollment management policy is the requirement that an enrollment category must remain open for at least the initial admission application period if the campus decides to accept any applications for that enrollment category. This alleviates the difficult problems of first come, first served. This policy allows applicants to impacted majors, programs, and campuses an equal chance during a fixed period of time to file admission applications. All students who file an admission application during the initial filing period must meet the supplemental admission criteria in effect for that major or campus.

The following are the most commonly used supplementary admission criteria that have been imposed when more admission applications are received during the initial filing period than can be accommodated and the program or campus has been designated as impacted:

  • Cease accepting admission applications at the conclusion of the initial filing period;
  • Require submission of the SAT I or ACT regardless of the high school grade point average;
  • Rank order first-time freshmen by eligibility index;
  • Set a higher minimum eligibility index than that required for CSU admission;
  • Review additional characteristics such as socioeconomic or educational factors, space availability in a program or major, indications of overcoming educational obstacles, or exceptional talents; and
  • Require completion of specified lower-division general education requirements for lower-division transfer applicants.

What Does the State Education Code Require CSU to Do?

The Legislature declared in Education Code 66202 enrollment priorities that CSU must follow to the extent practicable in the following numerical order for the purpose of enrollment planning and admission priority practice at the undergraduate resident student level. This law also permits a campus to consider the overall needs of students in maintaining a balanced program and a quality curriculum as it develops enrollment plans and implements admission priorities. The enrollment priorities are the following:

  1. Continuing undergraduate students in good standing.
  2. California Community College transfer students who have successfully concluded a course of study in an approved transfer agreement program.
  3. Other California Community College students who have met all of the requirements for transfer.
  4. Other qualified transfer students, i.e., California residents transferring from UC, independent colleges, other CSU campuses who meet admission standards.
  5. California residents entering at the freshman or sophomore levels.

Section 66202 of the Education Code focuses primarily on California residents seeking admission as undergraduate students. Non-California residents (residents of other states and foreign countries) have the lowest priority.

Further, the Education Code specifies that within each of the five categories above that the following groups of applicants receive priority consideration in admission practice in the order given:

  1. Veterans who are residents of California.
  2. Transfers from California public community colleges.
  3. Applicants who have been previously enrolled at the campus to which they are applying, provided they left the institution in good standing.
  4. Applicants who have a degree or credential objective that is not offered generally at other public postsecondary institutions.
  5. Applicants for whom the distance involved in attending another institutions would create financial or other hardships.

It is the intent of the Legislature that each California resident with the capacity and motivation to benefit from postsecondary education has the opportunity to enroll in a public four-year college.

While it was clearly the intent of the Legislature to ensure highest admission priority to fully qualified upper-division transfer students from California community colleges, the Legislature recognized the importance of a balanced undergraduate enrollment. The Education Code requires CSU to recognize several factors in the development and implementation of enrollment management policies. These are described below and require campuses to exercise discretion in using these policies

  • CSU shall maintain an undergraduate student population composed of a ratio of upper-division to lower-division students of at least 60 to 40 percent (Section 66201.5).
  • The policies must be practicable (Section 66202).
  • Policies must accommodate eligible California freshman applicants as well as eligible transfer students (Section 66202.5).
  • While policies should attempt to accommodate all qualified upper-division transfer students, they should not do so solely by denying places to eligible freshman applicants (Section 66201.5).
  • Transfer students who meet CSU admission requirements must be accommodated within filing deadlines at the campus or major of choice unless these majors or campuses have been declared impacted (Section 66202.5).
  • For impacted majors, students shall be given the opportunity to have access to the major when spaces become available, and new freshmen shall be admitted to the major in a controlled manner to ensure that all transfer students have an equitable chance of being accommodated (Section 66202.5).
  • CSU must consider the overall needs of students in maintaining a balanced program and a quality curriculum (Section 66202.5)
  • Campus enrollment planning processes must provide for the equitable treatment of all eligible entering freshmen, continuing students in good standing, and eligible community college transfer students with regard to accommodation in majors (Section 66202.5).

Therefore, while California residents entering at the freshman or sophomore levels are accorded lowest admission priority, freshmen are not and cannot be excluded entirely from admission. While a campus could possibly meet its enrollment target by admitting students entirely from the first and second priorities (i.e., continuing undergraduate students and new upper-division transfer students), it should not do so because of the additional admonishments and directives specified by the Legislature.

What Does Trustee Enrollment Management Policy Require CSU to Do?

Trustee Policy: Title 5, 40650, Establishment of Enrollment Quotas

In response to Section 66202 of the Education Code, the CSU Board of Trustees established an enrollment management policy that opens with the following statement:

Admission to a campus shall be limited on the basis of authorized academic plans and programs, and the number of students for whom facilities and competent staff are available to provide opportunity for an adequate college education.

(Title 5, 40650, Establishment of Enrollment Quotas)

The Trustees authorized the chancellor to provide for the establishment of enrollment quotas for the CSU for any of the following enrollment categories. The following four enrollment categories are described in Executive Order 563 (January 1, 1991), Impacted Programs and Campuses:

  • Academic area
    • Discipline
    • Division
    • Major
  • Class level
    • Continuing students (all levels, undergraduate, postbaccalaureate, graduate)
    • First-time freshmen
    • Lower-division transfer students
    • Upper-division transfer students
    • Postbaccalaureate/graduate students
  • Program
    • Campus-defined activities apart from those defined by discipline, division, or major, e.g., Educational Opportunity Program, athletics, etc.
  • Residence status

In establishing quotas for these categories, the Trustees directed campuses to place primary emphasis upon the allocation of resources at the upper-division level in order to facilitate the accommodation of California public community college transfer students.

Trustee Policy:  Enrollment Management Principles

At its March 15, 2000 meeting, the Trustees adopted principles effective with students seeking admission to the CSU for fall 2001 to aid the chancellor and campuses in carrying out the mission of the CSU and to ensure that CSU campuses continue to comply with the provisions of the Master Plan for Education. When the Board of Trustees adopted its enrollment management policy in March 2000, it reaffirmed that upper-division California Community College transfers who are California residents have the highest priority for admission, that all CSU-eligible freshmen who are California residents are accommodated somewhere in the system, that all CSU-eligible students who are California residents are guaranteed admission to at least one local CSU campus, and that campuses must maintain a balanced program and achieve diversity as admission priorities are implemented.

In response to questions raised about some aspects of the policy since its implementation, the Board Trustees modified the enrollment management policy at its September 2002 meeting to clarify the following policies: (1) improvement in communication of campus admission policies and procedures, especially policies regarding local admission guarantees, (2) access to programs and majors that may not be available at an applicant’s local CSU campus, (3) role of presidential advisory groups to assist the campus in the identification of effective enrollment management policies that recognize broad community interests, and (4) expanded analysis and reporting on the effect of enrollment management policies on students. The following enrollment management policy is effective with students seeking admission to the CSU for fall 2003.

Campus Enrollment Management Plan

  • Each CSU campus shall develop and adopt a strategic, long-range enrollment management plan that addresses student outreach, recruitment, admission, retention, graduation, and qualitative measures of student success.
  • A campus’s enrollment management plan shall address equal educational opportunities for all admitted and enrolled students, accommodation of eligible first-time freshman and upper-division transfer students, diversity, and local, regional, and statewide service, consistent with California’s Master Plan and a campus’s mission and location.
  • Enrollment management plans should incorporate projections of student demand and be coordinated with academic planning regarding the size of existing and proposed majors and programs. They should be coordinated with instructional resources and physical facilities requirements, including creative ways to meet demand, including flexible scheduling and year-round operations, distance learning and use of technology, and off-campus centers as appropriate to the campus mission and location.
  • CSU outreach, admission, and retention policies shall continue to provide encouragement, support, academic and counseling services, and access to students traditionally underrepresented in California higher education toward the goal of enrolling a student population reflective of campus’s local regions and California’s growing diversity. To ensure that each campus works toward this goal within its local region, the Office of the Chancellor will coordinate all statewide efforts related to these services.

Presidential Enrollment Management Advisory Groups

  • To assist the campus in the identification of effective enrollment management policies, new or existing, that address the education needs of the local, regional, and state student population in terms of outreach, admission, and enrollment, each campus president shall appoint and consult with a presidential advisory group.
  • The members of the presidential advisory group shall include faculty, students, administrators, representatives of educational institutions from the campus’s local region, and local community leaders representing broad community interests.
  • In selecting members of the presidential advisory group, sensitivity to the cultural diversity of the campus and participants’ cultural competence will be essential.

Major/Program Impaction

  • CSU campuses may pursue program impaction for those majors and programs receiving more fully eligible applicants than can be accommodated.
  • CSU campuses shall utilize major and program impaction where appropriate prior to requesting campuswide impaction.
  • Supplemental admission criteria shall be used to screen both local and out-of-region applicants for impacted majors and programs.
  • Applicants to impacted majors or programs must meet the supplemental admission criteria for that major or program.

Campus Impaction

  • Campuswide impaction shall be authorized only when major and program impaction is inadequate to cope with an excess number of fully eligible applicants.
  • A campus may be designated as impacted campuswide only if the campus can demonstrate that it has exhausted existing enrollment capacity by implementing such approaches as flexible scheduling and year-round operations, expanding distance learning and use of technology, increasing the capacity of existing off-campus centers, establishing new centers, and using facilities imaginatively, but not at the expense of regular campus maintenance and capital outlay needs.
  • CSU-eligible local first-time freshman and local upper-division transfer students shall be admitted to an impacted campus on the basis of established CSU system admission policies.
  • Out-of-region applicants shall be admitted to an impacted campus on the basis of CSU system admission policies and supplemental admission criteria.
  • Admission to an impacted campus does not include assurance of admission to a specific program if that program is impacted.
  • If a major or program is not offered as part of the curriculum at an applicant’s local impacted CSU campus, CSU-eligible first-time freshman students are guaranteed admission to a CSU campus immediately adjacent to the applicant’s local region if it offers that major or program.
    • Depending upon enrollment demand at the immediately adjacent CSU campus, the applicant may be required to enroll in his/her local CSU campus to complete lower-division requirements. The student will then be guaranteed admission as an upper-division transfer student at the immediately adjacent CSU campus.
    • Should the student apply to any other CSU campus, (s)he will be treated as an out-of-region applicant.
    • Students wishing to change their major or program after enrolling at the immediately adjacent CSU campus may be required by the campus to petition for approval of a change in major.
    • If a major or program is not offered as part of the curriculum at an applicant’s local impacted CSU campus, CSU-eligible upper-division transfer students are guaranteed admission to a CSU campus immediately adjacent to the applicant’s local region if it offers that major or program.
      • Should the student apply to any other CSU campus, (s)he will be treated as an out-of-region applicant. Students wishing to change their major or program after enrolling at the immediately adjacent CSU campus may be required by the campus to petition for approval of a change in major.

Local Admission Guarantee

  • The local admission guarantee applies only to impacted campuses, not to impacted majors and programs.
  • Local CSU-eligible first-time freshman and local upper-division transfer students shall be admitted to a local CSU campus on the basis of established CSU system admission policies.
  • “Local” first-time freshmen are defined as those students who graduate from a high school district historically served by a CSU campus in that region.
  • “Local” upper-division transfer students are defined as those who transfer from a community college district historically served by a CSU campus in that region.
  • The boundaries of a campus’s local region shall contain the entire territory of the school district or community college district in which the local high school or community college campus is located.

Communication of Campus and Major/Program Impaction

  • Campuses approved by the chancellor to implement supplemental admission criteria shall provide public notice to all students who may be affected by these criteria, parents/families, and appropriate education agencies twelve months prior to the term in which the supplemental admission criteria take effect.
  • The local admission guarantee to campuses designated as impacted shall be announced and figure prominently in all campus recruitment, outreach, and admission materials. (The local admission guarantee does not apply to impacted majors and programs.)
  • In unusual circumstances in which a campus must respond to unanticipated enrollment pressures, a campus may implement enrollment management strategies or supplemental admission criteria without a twelve-month notice with the approval of the chancellor in accordance with Board of Trustee policy and following consultation with the presidential advisory group.
    • In such instances, the campus shall notify immediately (1) local K-12 schools and community colleges that serve local students and (2) all applicants affected by the change.
    • Students whose street or e-mail addresses are on file at the campus will be notified directly.
    • Local media announcements shall be used to inform the broader community and students and their families who may not have yet been in direct contact with the campus.

Communication of Campus Admission Policies and Procedures

  • The enrollment target of each campus and its off-campus centers will be established and publicized ten months prior to the beginning of each academic year.
  • Each campus shall maintain a process by which students can receive information about the status of their application for admission, reasons for denial of admission, and a process to appeal admission decisions.

Analysis and Reporting of Campus Enrollment Management Policies

  • The effects of the Trustee enrollment management principles and other CSU admission policies and practices shall be monitored carefully and reported by the chancellor on at least an annual basis to ensure that CSU continues to honor its Master Plan obligations in a clear and consistent way.
  • This report will include but is not limited to the examination of campus-based services and programs to assist students at affected campuses, analysis of the impact of approved pilot programs and supplemental criteria on student enrollment, and data on the racial and ethnic composition of the student population at campuses implementing enrollment management policies.

Enrollment Management Options That May Be Utilized at Campus Discretion

A number of steps may be taken to control enrollment at campus discretion prior to impaction and the use of supplementary admission criteria to screen applicants to majors, programs, class levels, and campuses. The following approaches enable CSU campuses to manage enrollments in compliance with provisions of Section 66202 of the Education Code, Title 5, and CSU Board of Trustee policies:

  • Establish zero quotas (accept no applications) for a particular enrollment category or for a specific term, e.g., academic major, program, class level (first-time freshmen, lower-division transfers, upper-division transfers), student resident status (non-California residents), spring term.
  • Cease accepting applications any time after the end of the initial application filing period. Application quotas may be set for departments, schools, or class levels. Acceptance of applications may stop any time quotas are reached after the first month of the filing period. Therefore, after the first month of the filing period, a campus may stop accepting applications on a given date or when it has received a number of admission applications necessary to meet its enrollment target.
  • Establish prerequisites for admission to upper-division status, e.g., to gain access to upper-division courses, an applicant may be required to have completed a minimum of 60 rather than 56 transferable units with grades of C or better, 39 semester units of courses equivalent to general education requirements, pass a required lower-division prerequisite course with a grade of C or better, and have completed an additional 6 to 9 units of prerequisite courses with grades of C or better. This option may be used if a program or campus is not impacted because a quantitative requirement is being imposed (e.g., completing a minimum number of units with a grade of C or better which is the minimum grade average needed to qualify for graduation) rather than a qualitative standard (e.g., requiring grades higher than C) which is permitted only if the program or campus is impacted.
  • Geographical proximity to the campus can be used to grant priority to applicants from the campus’s local region high schools and community colleges.
  • Suspend or limit special admission.
  • Establish application file completion deadlines so the campus may make admission decisions in a timely manner for advising and registration purposes.
  • Enforce academic disqualification policy more strictly, including conducting mid-year disqualification and imposing higher standards for immediate reinstatement.

Campuses may use the enrollment management options described above to implement the following types of enrollment management steps:

  • Accept no admission applications from lower-division transfer students.
  • Control access of non-California resident students.
  • Reduce the number of postbaccalaureate/graduate students.
  • Admit only on a space-available basis “special programapplicants, e.g., senior citizen, step-to-college, auditor.
  • Accept no mid-year admission applications.
  • Accept no admission applications from postbaccalaureate students seeking a second baccalaureate degree, postbaccalaureate students without a degree or credential objective, or unclassified graduate students.
  • Require a registration deposit to verify intent to enroll.

Examples of Enrollment Management Strategies

In order to implement an effective enrollment management model to comply with Section 66202 campuses can employ a variety of enrollment management practices that are reflected in the following examples:

Example 1:  Nonresident Students
Parents and public policy makers are sensitive about admitting domestic and foreign nonresidents when limited spaces are available. Therefore, campuses that need to control enrollment may eliminate or seriously reduce the admission of nonresident students, domestic and foreign. Although this may represent a small number of students (less than 5 percent), it does provide some spaces for California residents and prevents a serious public relations problem.

Example 2:  Reduce First-Time Freshmen
State law assigns freshmen the lowest admission priority. Therefore campuses may reduce but should not eliminate first-time freshmen due to the sensitivity of the Legislature. In absolute terms, strictly following the priority established by statute for an extended period of time could result in a 100:0 ratio of upper-division to lower-division students. This was not the intent of the Legislature or the desire of the CSU.

Example 3:  Lower-Division Transfer Students
Lower-division transfer students have other options, e.g., they can continue their studies at a community college. Therefore, campuses that need to manage enrollment may eliminate or reduce the admission of lower-division transfer students. However, it is important for campuses that plan to eliminate or reduce the admission of lower-division transfer students to consult with community colleges from which they receive most of their transfer students. Historically, community college presidents have supported CSU campuses that restrict the enrollment of lower-division transfer students to ensure access for upper-division transfer students.

Example 4:  Require Completion of All Lower-Division GE/Breadth Requirements Prior to Transfer
A campus may require that all 39 semester units of lower-division general education/breadth requirements be certified as complete by the community college prior to a student’s transfer. CSU’s graduation requirements include completion of 39 hours of lower-division general education/breadth courses and students transferring without certification have to complete the missing lower-level courses at the CSU campus, thereby placing an unnecessary burden on the campus’ GE program.

Example 5:  Unclassified, Postbaccalaureate Students
Postbaccalaureate students seeking a second baccalaureate degree, postbaccalaureate students without a degree or credential objective, and unclassified graduate students may be assigned low admission priority when enrollment must be controlled. Campuses may process postbaccalaureate and graduate applications on a programmatic need basis in priority order such as the following:

  1. First-time, new-type teacher credential candidates;
  2. Other teacher credential candidates;
  3. Joint Ph.D./Ed.D and masters classified graduates;
  4. Unclassified postbaccalaureate/graduate applicants; and
  5. Second baccalaureate candidates.

Example 6:  Require Completion of Prerequisites for Enrollment in Courses with Excess Demand to Avoid Major or Program Impaction
A campus may require that students complete satisfactorily specified prerequisites for enrollment in courses that may be entry level courses in a major or program that has excess demand. For example, a campus may require, prior to enrollment, (1) that a student has completed with a grade of C or better one or more prerequisite courses, (2) satisfactory completion of a placement examination appropriate to the course, e.g., foreign language, science, and/or (3) appropriate certification or licensure.

Example 7:  Admit and Retain Only Academically Qualified Students
Admit only full-eligible applicants by allowing no special admission for first-time freshmen or special circumstances, e.g., “S” code for upper division transfer students. In addition, campuses can enforce campus academic disqualification policies.

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