Hornet Science Scholars Program
Students who transfer from a community college to a four-year university in pursuit of a Bachelor's degree often face difficulty in the first year. This difficulty may be academic (adjusting to different expectations in the classroom) as well as social (finding friends and study partners, accessing resources, and feeling a sense of belonging within a larger campus environment). The combination of academic and social challenges is known as "transfer shock," and this is even more apparent when students face other barriers to success. This includes students who are the first in their family to attend college, or come from a low-income background. The Hornet Science Scholars program will ease the transition of high-achieving, low-income new transfer students by providing scholarships as well as the academic and social support needed to overcome transfer shock in the first year. Scholarship recipients will participate in four innovative pilot programs designed to promote the success of transfer students. The first is a "Transfer Ready Initiative" to improve advising and communication practices between local community colleges and Sacramento State, resulting in enhanced transfer preparation for all students, and assisting incoming students in knowing what to expect at the four-year university. The second pilot involves group scheduling of incoming Hornet Science Scholars within majors courses, so that they are clustered with students they know, who are also adjusting to the new environment. This practice will allow well-prepared Scholars to "fast track" through their remaining major requirements, speeding time to graduation. The third innovation puts into place proven academic support strategies (such as peer mentoring, peer-led team learning, and focused practice with study skills) to ensure immediate success in upper level courses and allow positive progression towards graduation. Such peer-facilitated programs encourage positive relationships between new transfers and continuing students. Finally, the fourth pilot features engagement with faculty mentors to prepare Scholars for immediate entry into science-related summer employment and research opportunities. This will include partnerships with the California Internship Network, which is based on the Sacramento State campus.
The Hornet Science Scholars project will explore six research questions that will investigate how an integrated set of evidence-based strategies, along with creative curricular structures and connection to science-related summer engagement, will transform the success of low-income, high-achieving science transfer students. This project will advance knowledge of academic and support interventions that might ease "transfer shock," and will provide a more accurate understanding about the types of support essential to increasing retention and graduation rates of science students. Formative and summative evaluation will provide information on mid-course corrections to the leadership team. Sacramento State shares student demographics with the majority of the 23 campuses that make up the California State University system, and has a ready audience with whom to share outcomes and successes.