San Jose State is ranked the fourth most transformative college in the United States, according to Money magazine. SJSU is also listed 14th in the nation’s top minority degree producers by the Diverse Issues.
“It’s not surprising that elite schools report high graduation rates or alumni success,” Money Magazine stated. “What’s impressive is when a college helps students do far better than would be expected from their academic and economic backgrounds. We call this a college’s value add.”
SJSU is being considered transformative because graduated students have good performances in their early career, though they had lower expectations based on their academic and economic backgrounds.
Money magazine ranked the colleges based on graduation rates, students’ early career earnings and student loan repayment rates. Ninety-three percent of SJSU students who need aid receive grants. Statistics on the list show, on average, SJSU students’ debt will total $15,000 upon graduating.
Director of Academic Advising and Retention Services Cynthia Kato said SJSU values people from different backgrounds and respects their different perspectives.
“We want to give them additional skills, we don’t want to downplay or have them reject their culture or their background,” Kato said.
SJSU has a diverse community and the university is proud of that.
“We are not trying to make you a different person...We are trying to extend you as a person, rather than so much
change you as a person,” Kato said.
Attending a college without knowing what to expect causes students to spend more time in adjustment. About half of SJSU students are first-generation college students.
Melina Telles, a sociology senior, is one of them. “After my first semester, I wanted to drop out,” Telles said.
Telles is the first person in her family to attend a four-year university.
“It was hard for me to connect to the university, because I didn’t have somebody in my family who could help me along the way. It was more like, okay, I have to find out how to do all of these on my own.”
The university is aware of the maladjustment faced by first-generation college students, “All freshman deep down, [they] wonder, ‘Can I do this?’ ‘Do I belong here?’ ” Kato said.
According to Kato, different departments and offices such as the Academic Advising & Retention Services and Counseling and Psychological Services work hard to support helpless students in a variety of ways.
“There are academic supports, tutoring, there is mentoring, but there are also the social sides,” Kato said. “There are clubs and organizations that reach out to students, so that they feel that they belong to the community.”
In Telles’ first year, she joined a dance group and met others who shared the same cultural background as her. She then gained support from the people around her.
“I took advantage of the Counseling and Psychological Services and I actually used it the following semester,” Telles said, “It was actually very helpful.”
Kato said the university wants students to feel comfortable reaching out and asking questions.
“We can’t monitor how everybody is doing... it’s important to ask, to get to somebody you trust, whoever that is, student, faculty or staff, and ask the question.”
Kato believes that the main reason SJSU is being ranked as one of the most transformative universities is because the school creates an environment that values and respects every student.
“We do believe in every student and their abilities,” Kato said. “Though, we are not perfect, we have still got ways to go as we always do.”