Time to graduate, California campuses tell students pushing 30

Fresno State student Wesley Sheets figures he's banked more than 200 units in a college career spanning three campuses and nearly a decade.

And he's not done yet.

Most bachelor's degrees require 120 to 130 units. But Sheets, 29, said he isn't ready to graduate because he changed majors, couldn't transfer some units between campuses and struggled academically after a death in his family.

Now, unit-rich students like him are getting more attention on California State University campuses. Authorities are nudging students — often called "super seniors" — to graduate and make room in the cash-strapped system.

The 23-campus CSU has clamped down on admissions as it works to reduce enrollment by 40,000 students over two years. Fresno State is shrinking fall 2010 enrollment to about 19,500 — roughly the same number of students as it enrolled in fall 2000.

In comparison, the university's highest enrollment was more than 22,600 students in fall 2008.

Around the CSU, one way to make more room is to encourage super seniors to finish. At Fresno State, more than 100 students who are eligible — or nearly eligible — to graduate recently received letters instructing them to meet with an adviser to develop a graduation plan.

Those students can't register for fall 2010 classes until officials evaluate their plan.

Paul Oliaro, vice president for student affairs, said graduation is the ultimate goal.

"The message is that we are about student success, and that really translates into getting your degree," he said.

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