Beach XP Kickoff Revitalizes College Experience for First-Year Students

The decline of student enrollment and retention remains a weltering challenge across the CSU system. CSULB, however, has been working meticulously to reverse this trend. This 2023-24 academic year, Cal State Long Beach launches the new Beach XP learning community program. Short for Beach Experience, the program is designed to boost and maintain enrollment among first-time, first-year students by fostering a community of belonging.

“A team of administrators, faculty, staff, and student mentors are working together as a community. This is an opportunity to provide an optimal setting to support our students to succeed academically, socially, and professionally,” says Interim Director of Beach XP, Candice Chick, “The collaboration between Students Affairs and Academic Affairs Departments and faculty makes it possible to support the students in a way never done before. This amazing DREAM Team is making it happen at The Beach." 

The CSULB community gathered virtually on Monday, August 21, 2023, to mark the start of this innovative program with an exciting, virtual kickoff event. The kickoff generated much enthusiasm and engagement, gathering over 100 leaders across campus to preview “The Beach Experience” being offered to our students this fall. From the Office of Basic Needs to the Bob Murphy Access Center, the event presentation reviewed an array of resources to foster wellness, academic support, and a sense of belonging for incoming Beach XP students. 

This learning community program will support students as they navigate the start of their college journey and connect to campus. Beach XP will allow each student to establish peer networks, build career connections, and foster a sense of community through friendship and fun. Students will join college-specific cohorts and meet with the same peers each week for designated courses that count towards their general education and major-specific requirements.

Additionally, Beach XP students will receive personalized guidance from peer mentors and will connect to other valuable campus resources through embedded activity hours. Students will participate in specialized social and skill-building activities to set them up for academic and career-driven success ahead. 

“It is our hope that we can start these students off right. We want to help them feel connected to this campus, our services, and to one another,” says Provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Karyn Scissum Gunn, “This program is designed to create meaningful relationships, foster a sense of proactive support, and of course, hopefully, boost our retention efforts during that critical first year.”  

An innovative approach to retention and belonging, the program imbues CSULB’s aim to guide our growing and diverse student population. The program also follows Beach 2030’s strategic priorities to expand access and build community. The cohort-based model will assist all types of Beach XP learners to find a community of support while they navigate the complexities of higher education during their first year. With this effort in place, CSULB exerts what it means to be a student-ready university, by approaching students with intentional belonging and offering holistic support.  

"Beach XP is a wonderful program that recognizes the value of cultivating a sense of belonging among ALL students. Research is clear, when students have a sense of belonging, they do better in and out of the classroom,” says Academic Affairs’ Chief of Operations, Dr. Catherine Ward, “Belonging not only supports motivation, resiliency, and wellness but positively impacts academic outcomes. Equally important, cultivating a sense of belonging supports students knowing they are valued and that they matter, just as they are.” 

Beach XP also speaks to No Barriers’ core objective to advance the public good. CSULB’s colleges are actively working together to eliminate achievement gaps by strengthening programs that lead to a more equitable future for all learners. Access and community will propel our students forward, and our Beach XP team will continue to serve as facilitators of student success. 

For more information on Beach XP, please visit their website