Excess Units in Pursuit of the Bachelor s Degree

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1 Excess in Pursuit of the Bachelor s -- An Analysis on Native Freshmen Graduated during Office of Institutional Research Sacramento State July-September, 2011

2 This report intends to examine the number of excess that native freshmen take at this university while in pursuit of their Bachelor s degrees, as well as the impact of those on student FTE, course sections and cost to the university. Furthermore, this study will explore some of the factors that contribute to the accumulation of excess. Sample and Methodology All Bachelor s degree recipients who were native freshmen and graduated in summer 2009, fall 2009 and May 2010 were selected for use in this study (N=1,234). This is equivalent to 25% of the total number of Bachelor s degree recipients from the academic year. The total accumulated unit load of each graduate was divided into eight categories: major, second major, minor, General Education, other (i.e. electives), repeat, remedial and transfer. In relation to data modeling, the following logic was used: sort out all remedial, then match all remaining to each major, second major and minor. In the case that a course happened to match a major, second major or minor and General Education, the are attributed to the major, second major or minor. However, due to a lack of clear indicators in the database, some GE courses may have been counted toward major but grouped with GE. To demonstrate the scope and impact of excess on this campus, this study focuses on taken at Sacramento State, including related to the major, second major, minor, GE, electives (other), and repeats. Remedial and transfer were excluded from this study due to the fact that the former are mandatory for those in need of remediation and the latter were not taken at Sacramento State. attained in conjunction with withdrawals (a grade of W or WU) were also excluded from each individual record within the sample. The definition of what constitutes an excess of varies based upon the different requirements of a Bachelor s degree in each major. Students in most majors must complete 120 to attain a bachelor s degree, while those majoring in Engineering & Computer Sciences must complete average 135, and those in Nursing must complete 131 ( Sacramento State Catalog). As such, all reviewed in this study are displayed by the college in which the degree was attained. This study also examined some of the reasons behind why students take excess. In this pursuit, three factors were analyzed to reveal whether they actually contributed to excess, including repeating courses, taking second majors and/or minors, and changing majors. Consequently, three comparative analyses were conducted: graduates who took repeat and those who did not, graduates who took second majors/minors and those who did not, and graduates who changed majors at least once and those who did not. Three measurements were adopted in relation to the comparison analyses: average Sacramento State, percentage of graduates who exceeded the required number of, and time-to-degree. Furthermore, T-Tests were utilized in order to determine whether a specific factor contributed in a meaningful manner to excess unit accumulation. A logistic regression model was also created to demonstrate the predictive power of the three contributors to excess unit accumulation at Sacramento State. 1

3 The Impact of Excess on Student FTE and Course Sections The following table displays all of the that bachelor s degree recipients took before they graduated from Sacramento State. For the purposes of this study, within the first six categories have been defined as being Sacramento State (highlighted in green). It is worth noting, however, that shown for second majors (Major2) and minors are incomplete due to the fact that 110 of the bachelor s degree recipients in this study had no recorded for their second major or minors. Table 1. All Taken by the Selected Bachelor s Recipients (N=1,234) College of Major1 Major2 Minor GE Elective Repeat Remedial Transfer Grand Total ALS 13, ,559 4,881 1,086 1,017 1,941 37,006 BUS 15, ,644 3,565 1, ,948 38,888 ECS 4, ,171 2, ,481 ED 1, ,337 1, ,269 HHS 13, ,783 6,361 1,373 1,152 2,960 43,274 NSM 4, ,233 2, ,136 14,146 SCI 8, ,021 12,548 6, ,102 32,695 SP University 62, ,909 70,608 28,433 6,371 4,659 11, ,491 Based upon the number of required, all gradautes were divided into two groups: met required and exceeded required. In order to accomendate any incidental extra that may have been accumulated, the cutoff for Exceeded Required was set at 124 (rather than 120) for most of majors. However, the cutoff remaines as 135 for all majors within the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, and 131 for Nursing majors. Official degree include all (both Sacramento State and transfer ) that count toward the degree. The results show that 73% of the gradautes exceeded the required number of based on their offical degree, with the number of excess ranging from 124 to 224 at the university level (See Table 2 below). Table 2. Excess for Bachelor (Official ) College of Met Required Exceeded Required (Group with Excess ) Count % Count % Total Median Mean Maximum Minimum ALS % % BUS % % ECS 1 1.3% % ED % % HHS % % NSM 4 4.9% % SCI % % SP 0 0.0% % University % % 1, Note: Official refer to the that count toward degree. Numbers are based on degree census files 2

4 As stated previously, for the purposes of this study, Sacramento State do not include transfer or remedial but do include any that were taken at Sacramento State that may or may not count toward the degree (i.e. repeat ). In relation to this study, Sacramento State are more useful than official degree due to the fact that Sacramento State were all accumulated at Sacramento State. The results show that 67% of the bachelor s degree recipients exceeded the required number of for their major based solely on Sacramento State, with the number of excess ranging from 124 to 348 at the university level. (See Table 3 and graph below). Table 3. Excess for Bachelor (Actual Taken at Sac State) College of Met Required Exceeded Required Sac State (Group with Excess ) Count % Count % Total Median Mean Maximum Minimum ALS % % BUS % % ECS % % ED % % HHS % % NSM % % SCI % % SP 0 0.0% % University % % 1, % 100.0% 80.0% 60.0% 40.0% 20.0% Graduates With Excess Sac State 88% 85% 78% 68% 62% 55% 48% 100% 0.0% ALS BUS ECS ED HHS NSM SCI SP The following formulas were utilized to calculate excess Sacramento State : Total Required = # Graduates x Required degree (vary by programs) Excess = Actual Sacramento State - Total required 3

5 Using the formulas illustrated on the previous page, excess Sacramento State were calculated to a total of 22,159, which could then be converted to full-time equivalent students (FTES), course sections and cost of course sections. According to guidelines established by the CSU Chancellor s Office, 15 equal 1 FTES for undergraduates. Moreover, based on the average class size at this university for the past five years, a typical course section has 30 students with each student generally earning 3 credits for taking the course. Therefore, the Student Credit Unit (SCU) is calculated as being 90 per section (30 x 3 = 90), with the cost of each course section being about $5,175. The following formulas were used in relation to converting excess into FTES, course sections and cost of course sections: FTES = Excess /15 Course Sections = Excess / (30 x 3) Cost of Course Sections = $5,175 x # Course sections The results reveal that 22,159 excess Sacramento State could be converted to 1,477.2 FTES, 246 course sections and a cost of approximately $1,274,114 (See Table 4 below). Table 4. Excess Sac State, Student FTE and Cost of Course Sections College Headcount of Graduates Required Total Required Actual Sac State Excess Sac State Converted Student FTE Converted Course Sections Cost of Course Sections ALS ,344 23,262 3, $225,285 BUS ,676 29,437 4, $273,758 ECS ,910 11,315 2, $138,288 ED ,844 4, $43,125 HHS ,824 26,413 4, $263,839 Nursing $22,943 NSM ,556 11,479 2, $168,073 SSIS ,764 16,009 2, $129,088 SP $9,718 University , ,669 22,159 1, $1,274,114 Contributors to Excess Sacramento State In order to identify causes contributing to excess, a comparative analyses was conducted on three basic factors: Graduates with repeat, graduates with second majors/minors, and graduates who changed their majors at least once during their college careers. 1. Repeating Courses. Repeat are not counted toward the degree, however, students who repeat courses do take seats in classes that would otherwise be available to other students. Approximately 55% of the bachelor s degree recipients in this study had repeat, accounting for a total of 6,371 repeat. The 4

6 median number of repeat among the graduates was 6 and the maximum repeat were as high as 63 at university level. Among the seven colleges, 63% of the graduates from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics had repeat (the highest rate), while 48% of the graduates from the College of Social Sciences had repeat (the lowest rate). The results also reveal the distribution of excess Sac State were almost in proportion to the distribution of repeat among colleges (See Table 5 and graphs below). Table 5. Repeat at Sacramento State College of Had Repeat Repeat Count % Total Median Mean Maximum Minimum Sum ALS % ,086 BUS % ,380 ECS % ED % HHS % ,373 NSM % SCI % SP % University % 1, ,371 Excess Sac State among Colleges 1% 10% 18% ALS BUS 13% ECS ED 21% HHS 23% NSM 11% 3% SSIS Repeat among Colleges 0% ALS 14% 17% BUS 11% ECS ED 22% HHS 22% NSM 5% 9% SSIS 5

7 When conducting the comparison analysis, three measurements are adopted: average Sacramento State, percentage of graduates who exceeded the required number of, and number of years to degree. The results of the analyses show that repeaters, on average, accumulated 26 more than non-repeaters. Furthermore, the percentage of repeaters who exceeded the required was almost double that of non-repeaters. Most important, repeaters took an average of 1 year longer to earn a Bachelor s degree than non-repeaters. The differences between repeaters and non-repeaters, in terms of all three measurements, are statistically significant (See Table 6 below). Table 6. Comparison between Repeaters and Non-Repeaters Repeaters Non-repeaters Count % Mean Count % Mean Gap Statistical Significance Sacramento State Yes Exceeded Required % % 42% Yes Year to Yes T-Test, p< Higher value is highlighted in Yellow. 2. Changing Majors Within this sample, approximately 49% (N=607) of the graduates had changed their majors at least once during their college career. 78% of them (474/607) changed their majors only once, while 22% of them (133/607) changed their majors more than once. Table 7 (See below) displays additional detail with regard to graduates who changed their majors. Table 7. Frequency of Changing Majors Changing Majors Once Twice 3 times or more Total % Changed Major Once ALS % BUS % ECS % ED % HHS % NSM % SCI % SP % University % Among the 607 graduates who changed their majors, 437 (72%) exceeded the required number of for the major in which they ultimately graduated, accumulating a total of 12,530 excess at Sacramento State in the process. The same formula used to calculate excess Sac State is also used to calculate the excess for graduates who have changed their majors: Actual Sacramento State - Required = Excess 6

8 Among the seven colleges, the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics had the highest percentage of graduates who changed their majors and also gained excess, while the College of Business had the lowest. Table 8 below displays the Sacramento State for graduates who changed their majors and exceeded their required. Table 8. Excess Due to Changing Majors College of Changed Majors and Gained Excess Count % Total Required Total Required Actual Sac State Excess Sac State ALS % ,292 12,135 1,843 BUS % ,548 11,573 2,025 ECS % ,050 5,225 1,175 ED % ,100 3, HHS % ,276 15,318 3,042 Nursing % NSM % ,836 6,629 1,793 SCI % ,176 10,804 1,628 SP % University % 1,234 54,560 67,090 12,530 A comparison analysis was conducted between graduates who changed their majors and those who had never changed their majors. The results show that graduates who changed their majors had a 10% higher rate of exceeding the required number of for their major than that of graduates who had never changed their major. Graduates who changed their majors also took approximately one semester longer (3.6 months) to earn their degree compared to their peers who had not changed majors. The gap between these two groups was narrower than that of repeaters and non-repeaters; however, it was still statistically significant based on all three measurements. Please see Table 9 below. Table 9. Comparison between Changing Majors and No Change of Major Changed Majors Never Changed Majors Count % Mean Count % Mean Gap Statistical Significance Sacramento State Yes Exceeded Required % % 10% Yes Year to Yes T-Test, p< Higher value is highlighted in Yellow. 3. Second Majors and/or Minors Among the 1,234 bachelor s degree recipients in this sample, 23% (N=287) had second majors and/or minors. In relation to this subset, the total number of accumulated with regard to second majors and minors at Sacramento State was 4,733. However, it is important to note that unit counts for second 7

9 majors and minors are incomplete due to the fact that 110 (38%) of the 287 graduates had 0 recorded as being related to their second majors and/or minors. In those cases, it appears as though which were accumulated in relation to second majors and/or minors may have been attributed to their first major. As such, the actual number of listed for second majors and minors should be much higher than that which is recorded. In addition, all graduates with 0 for second majors and minors were excluded when calculating means or median to ensure the accuracy. Among the seven colleges, 32% of the graduates from the College of Business had a second major and/or minor (highest proportion) while only 10% of the graduates from the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics had a second major and/or minor (lowest proportion). Refer to Table 10 below for additional details. Table 10. Attributed to Second Majors/Minors at Sacramento State College of 2nd Major/Minors for 2nd Majors and Minors Count % Total Median Mean Maximum Minimum Sum ALS % ,084 BUS % ECS % ED % HHS % NSM % SCI % ,378 SP 0 0.0% 4 University % 1, ,733 Note: 101 students who had 2nd majors and/or minors had no recorded as being clearly related to their 2nd major and/or minors. They were therefore excluded from the calculation of means and medians. When comparing bachelor s degree recipients with a single major to those with a second major and/or minor (Major Plus), only one measurement, the percentage of graduates with excess, reflected a significant difference between the two groups (see Table 11 below). Table 11. Comparison between Major Plus and Single Major Major Plus Single Major Count % Mean Count % Mean Gap Statistical Significance Sacramento State No Exceeded Required % % 6% Yes Year to No T-Test, p<0.05. Higher value is highlighted in blue. 4. A Regression Model for Excess Sacramento State After examining the three contributors to excess reviewed in this study individually, it was necessary to develop a logistic regression model to reveal the predictive power of each factor on excess 8

10 Sacramento State. For this model, repeating courses, changing majors, and major type (single major vs. major plus) were selected for use as independent variables, while the rate of exceeding the required number of for the major was the dependent variable. This model shows that repeaters were 8 times more likely to exceed the required number of for their majors than non-repeaters, and that graduates with a major plus (those with a second major and/or minor) were 1.7 times more likely to exceed the number of required than those with a single major. Graduates who had changed majors were 1.3 times more likely to exceed the required number of than those who had never changed majors. However, changing majors as a predictor was not significantly associated with the outcome if taking into account other two predictors. The accuracy of prediction of this model is approximately 73%. Please refer to Table 12 below. Table 12. Logistic Regression Model for Excess Sac State Predict Variables B S.E. Wald df Sig. Exp(B) Odds Ratio Major type(1) Change majors(1) Repeat (1) Constant Model Indicators Baseline P* 67.1% Chi Square (df) 265,314 Model N 1,234 Pseudo R log L % Correctly predicted 73.3% * Refers to the percentage of graduates who exceeded required. Rank Discussion and Recommendation The fact that 72% of the bachelor s degree recipients within the selected native freshmen exceeded the number of required by their major when they graduated from the university (based on their official degree ) should prompt introspection. When examining actually taken at Sacramento State (excluding remedial and transfer ), 67% of the graduates exceeded the number of required. Among the seven colleges, 88% of the bachelor s degree recipients from the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences exceeded the number of required (highest rate), while 48% of the degree recipients from the College of Social Science did so (lowest rate) based on Sacramento State. Among those who had excess, the median number of total accumulated was 145 (25 above the required 120 or 10 above the required 135 ). The individual unit cost for resident undergraduate students at Sacramento State during the academic year was approximately $ per unit, with the total cost of 25 being $2,540. Therefore, graduates who exceed the number of required for their degree pay an average of $2,500 more than necessary in tuition, which in turn could also add to the soaring debt incurred by student loans. 9

11 By calculation, the 828 graduates who exceeded the required accumulated a total of 22,159 excess Sacramento State. These excess could be converted to 1,477.2 FTES, which is equivalent to 7.4% of the total undergraduate FTES of the university in fall of If this situation were addressed, a substantial amount of FTES could be preserved for the admission of new students, thereby minimizing the need for enrollment reductions. These excess are also equivalent to 246 course sections. The cost of those course sections could be approximated to be $1,274,114 (an average $5,175 per course section). Please note that this cost calculation was based on 25% of the degree recipients from (1,234 out of a total of 4,892 Bachelor s degree recipients). Therefore, the actual number of excess for the class of , including both native and transfer students, could be as much as three times higher. According to this study, three factors made significant contributions toward facilitating the accumulation of excess Sacramento State, such as repeating courses, changing majors and taking second majors and/or minors. 673 graduates accumulated a total of 6,371 repeated at this university, which accounts for 29% of all excess Sacramento State. Those repeated could be converted to FTES and 71 course sections. The cost of those course sections could be as high as $366,333. Repeating courses is the most powerful predictor for excess Sacramento State among the three contributors. Repeaters were 8 times more likely to exceed their required than nonrepeaters. 287 graduates accumulated 4,733 in relation to their second majors and minors. As mentioned previously, that number is much lower than the actual number of accumulated, as 110 (38%) of the graduates had 0 recorded for their second majors or minors. However, the number of which were recorded for second majors and minors is still substantial, and accounts for 21% of the all excess Sacramento State. related to second majors and minors could be converted to FTES, 53 course sections, and an additional cost of $272, graduates changed their majors at least once during their college career. 437 (72%) of those graduates exceeded the number of required for their majors and accumulated 12,530 excess at Sacramento State. Those may or may not overlap with repeat and/or the related to second majors and minors. As noted through this study, graduates with repeat and those who changed their majors had significantly higher Sacramento State, were more likely to exceed the number of requited by their major, and needed more time to attain a degree when compared to non-repeaters and those who never changed majors. Graduates who had a second major and/or minor were also more likely to exceed the number of required by their major. However, the number of Sacramento State they accumulated, or the time that it took them to earn their degree, was similar to that of their peers who had a single major. In order to address the issue of excess Sacramento State, it may be necessary to reexamine policies with regard to managing/minimizing repeating courses, changing of majors, and adding 10

12 second majors and minors. Such developments might require enhanced or revised enforcement of academic policies, the provision of sound advising in relation to aiding students in selecting their majors, and the establishment of guidelines for the addition of second majors and minors. Further study will be required in order to identify other factors related to excess unit accumulation and their interrelationships. Additional factors worthy of review include class availability, General Education requirements, academic advising, and the financial aid policy that requires students to maintain full-time status (15 each semester) in order to remain eligible. These factors, to different extents, may very well contribute to the number of excess accumulated by Bachelor s degree recipients at Sacramento State besides those incurred by the three factors analyzed in this study. This issue becomes more pressing when reviewing the unit load of current seniors: 47% of the seniors who entered at this university as native freshmen have exceeded the number of required by their majors and 52% all seniors (both native freshmen and transfers) have exceeded the number of required by spring

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