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At San Jose State Turns Out Student Attrition Has Nothing to Do With the Adjuncts

Ian E. McInness

On San Jose State University’s lush inner-city campus, students in their graduation gowns pose with their families in front of ivy-covered buildings.

They’re the lucky ones.

Just 10 percent of students graduate from this public university in four years. After six years, it’s only a bit more than half.

Think about that — of 100 students who enrolled four years ago, only 10 will walk across the stage this year.

That sounds low, but you can find these kind of numbers at lots of universities in the U.S.

What’s not typical is how San Jose State is tackling the problem.

Officials there did something radical: they phoned students who had dropped out and asked them why.

Up on the north side of campus, you’ll find Marcos Pizarro on the second floor of Clark Hall. At 6 feet 2, he’s nearly as tall as his tiny office is wide.

A professor of Mexican-American studies, Pizarro has been at San Jose State for 17 years.

All that time, he says, he has heard the same explanation about why the graduation rate is so low. It goes like this: “Well, they’re not as well-prepared, and they have a lot of

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