Graduate Project

An Assessment for the Development of a Student-Centered Onboarding Process for Graduate Coordinators at Cal Poly Pomona

The purpose of this study was to evaluate applicant perceptions and experiences of the Cal Poly Pomona graduate admissions process in order to identify potential causes of declining graduate student enrollment. This was determined through an online survey sent to previously admitted Cal Poly Pomona graduate applicants from past academic terms. Survey participants were asked to respond to a series of questions such as to identify their legal sex; Master’s program objective; identify a stage in the application process where they experienced the most difficulty and the most ease; rate their experience in establishing a professional connection with faculty; and whether the participant would recommend a friend or colleague to apply to graduate school at Cal Poly Pomona. This project utilized quantitative and qualitative data analysis techniques to analyze the responses and evaluate the experience of admitted graduate applicants. The online survey was active for 5 months from April 2019 through September 2019 at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. The sample size was 233 admitted Cal Poly Pomona graduate applicants, now students, who were admitted across the academic years of 2015-2016, 2016-2017, and 2017-2018. The results of the data collected supported the view that graduate applicants find the application process and overall graduate admissions experience to be generally user friendly. Although, survey participants indicated specific operational aspects of the application system as contributing factors towards their frustration around their application status. Additionally, admitted Cal Poly Pomona graduate applicants considered many factors including specific university attributes when recommending the University for graduate school. Recommendations include the creation and implementation of a student-centered onboarding process for newly-appointed graduate coordinators; the onboarding process should be facilitated by the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Planning; the onboarding process should be comprehensive so that graduate coordinators have the appropriate information to share with potential Cal Poly Pomona graduate applicants; and that the Office of Admissions and Enrollment Planning incorporate experienced graduate coordinators in the onboarding process.