By the Numbers

Compass is a relatively young program, but there is already strong evidence that it is meeting its goals of creating a supportive, diverse community of science students. Some of that evidence is presented here.

To put these numbers in context, Compass students are not selected based on standardized test scores or their high school GPA. Instead, applicants are selected based on short-answer questions that speak to their interest in the physical sciences, how they may contribute to and benefit from a diverse community, and their experiences in communication and collaboration.


Of the 88 students who participated in Compass’s summer programs from 2007 to 2012, 45% are female, 19% are first-generation college students, 26% are Chicano/Latino, 5% are African American, and 1% are Native American. For comparison, only 21% of physics bachelor’s degrees in the United States go to women and just 8.3% to underrepresented minorities (AIP statistics).

Graduation Statistics

Out of 26 students from the 2007 and 2008 summer programs:

  • 19 (73%) have already graduated
  • 24 (92%) are on track to graduate by spring 2013
  • 22 (85%) majored in a STEM field
  • 16 (62%) majored in physics, geophysics, astronomy, or Earth & planetary science

Other STEM majors include computer science, mathematics, geography, environmental earth science, cognitive science, and molecular and cellular biology. As a comparison, of freshman nationwide who enter college with an expressed interested in science and engineering, only 38% complete a degree in those fields within 6 years (NSF statistics).

Qualitative Findings

Compass has tracked the experiences of the 2010 summer program students through interviews and surveys over the course of their first and second years. Of the 14 students who answered the survey question “After your first year as a Cal and Compass student, what (if anything) is important for you about Compass?”, 12 students spoke about community, friendship, or meeting people, and 6 students spoke about academic or scientific support. Additionally, 13 students reported seeing each other at least once per week (9 had daily contact), 8 studied together, and 9 lived with or planned to live with another Compass student.