Graduation rates for transfer students attending Cal State La for three years have increased to 64 percent in 2014 — up from nearly 38 percent in 2005, according to data from university’s Enrollment Reporting System.

University staff and administrators credit resources such as student support services and advisement opportunities and new policies — including requiring a transfer orientation. Making the transfer orientation mandatory seemed to make “a huge contribution to graduation retention rates because students now feel what the expectations are coming into Cal State LA,” said Janet Vera Lopez, Director of Student Success and Advising for the College of Business and Economics.

In addition to campus-wide events like the general orientation and Welcome Week activities, each college implements its own methods of welcoming new students. The College of Business & Economics, for instance, offers “Orientation 2.0,” a workshop designed to aid with Spring enrollment. Degree planning, registration guidance and transcript verification are just a few of the topics addressed.

Beyond academics, connection is key to ensuring student success, experts say. “We want to hang out with you. You don’t have to just come with difficult situations. During the study breaks we play games,” Vera Lopez said enthusiastically. “We have Jenga, Monopoly, music, and pizza. Come and get to know us and we want to get to know you.”

During a previous semester this year, many transfer students were put on academic probation during their first semester, she said. She said she knew something had to be done. “Look, I get it, you’re probably commuting, you’re probably having to take your siblings to school,” said Vera Lopez, a first-generation transfer student herself. “You’re probably having to do all of these things.”

In response, she said she created workshops called “probation sessions” to address the needs of the students such as individual coaching sessions to help with anything from repeating a class to managing work, personal and educational demands.