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New Mexico State University
PRIMOS

About PRIMOS

The Partnership for Retention and Improvement of Meaningful Outcomes in STEM (PRIMOS) is a two year, federally funded education grant that began in 2008. The grant is funded by the US Department of Education. It is made possible by the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) which strives to improve and expand the institution's capacity to serve Hispanic and other low-income students. NMSU has been designated a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI). An HSI is an educational institution which

  • has an enrollment of undergraduate full-time students is at least 25 percent Hispanic
  • and is selected by the Department of Education to receive CCRAA funding.

Background

To be competitive in today's work place requires a post-secondary degree. NMSU and DACC are strongly committed to serving the educational needs of New Mexico and our region, and as a Hispanic Serving Institution we are gateways to degree attainment for under-represented minorities such as hispanics or low income students. These groups are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) fields. They face obstacles in enrollment, financial and academic preparedness, retention, transition from DACC, and degree attainment.

The demographics of Doña Ana County provides a snapshot for the academic and financial challenges of our students. The majority of students enrolling at DACC and NMSU graduate from high schools in Doña Ana County, which ranks among the poorest in the US in capita income. Poverty in the county is high: 37% of children and 27.4% of the population are below the poverty line. The population is largely (65%) Hispanic, 54% do not speak English at home, and only 22% have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Many students entering NMSU and DACC are Hispanic or low-income and the first in their family to attend college. One of the most significant obstacles these students face is financial. STEM majors usually take five to six years to graduate, but financial aid often expires after four years. Low-income students struggle to finance the remainder of their STEM degree.

Another barrier is lack of college-readiness. Students who aren't academically prepared for college are 41% likely to graduate. Ready for College 2007, a recent study by the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration, found that 49% of students required developmental classes in math or literacy.

For financial and academic reasons, Hispanic students tend to begin their college career at DACC with the intention of transferring to NMSU. Without effective planning, students may take classes that do not transfer to their NMSU STEM degree plan. This slows their degree attainment and discourages them from pursuing STEM degrees.

Goals

PRIMOS seeks to:

  • Increase the number of Hispanics and other low-income students who declare STEM majors
  • Increase the number of Hispanic and other low-income students who earn degrees in STEM fields
  • Implement a more effective transfer model between DACC and NSMU for students who wish to continue on for a four-year STEM degree

Products and Services

To meet these goals, NMSU and DACC will work together to improve support services by:

  • Implementing an advising model to assist DACC students in making successful transfers to STEM degrees at NMSU
  • Providing math refresher courses for entering freshmen
  • Offering supplemental instruction gateway courses (courses with a low pass rate)
  • Redesigning STEM gateway courses
  • Refering students to academic assistance
  • Providing STEM coaches and mentors
  • Creating student learning communities
  • Integrating technology in STEM courses
  • Educating students and families on available resources
  • Increasing financial literacy among these students
  • Facilitating communication between faculty and professional development

Outcomes

PRIMOS aims to:

  • Increase the number of Hispanic students who declare a STEM major by 20%
  • Increase the number of graduating Hispanic STEM students by 8%
  • Increase the transfer rate of STEM majors from DACC to NMSU by 20%