College Application Day

CSI ambassadors help Canyon Ridge High School students apply to college in November 2014 during the Idaho Board of Education’s College Application Week.

DREW NASH, TIMES-NEWS FILE PHOTO

TWIN FALLS | The College of Southern Idaho is launching two changes for new students: an earlier application deadline and a mandatory orientation.

Students must apply by May 30 for the summer semester or Aug. 15 for fall semester. And new, full-time students who are seeking a degree must attend a six-hour orientation session.

School leaders say the changes are designed to help students be more successful. And statewide, educators are pushing to improve college graduation rates to help meet industry needs.

“The new leadership at the college is focused on student success initiatives,” CSI admissions director Gail Schull said. “We would like to see more of our students complete certificates, degrees and transfer.”

College leaders want more students to meet the goals they outline on their application — such as what type of degree or certificate they plan to earn, and whether they’re interested in transferring to a four-year university.

The Idaho Board of Education wants 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds to have a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2020. So far, numbers are lagging.

And the college completion rate across the Gem State is 40 percent — down 2 percent from 2014, Idaho Education News reported in April.

Currently, CSI students are allowed to apply for admission up until the last day to register for classes. But now, they’ll have to plan further ahead.

“We think that publishing a deadline sets a better expectation for the student," Schull said.

It’s still free to apply to CSI. And students can sign up for classes through the first Friday of each semester.

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The new Student Orientation, Advising and Registration program — or SOAR — will help new students learn about topics such as college services, financial aid, class advising, college policies and how to finish a degree in two years.

Sessions will be offered May through August at CSI campuses in Twin Falls, Burley, Hailey and Idaho Falls.

“SOAR is designed to help students to learn more about their rights and responsibilities,” Schull said.

It's just a requirement for new full-time, degree-seeking students, but other new students are welcome to attend.

Separate sessions for parents and family members will learn teach them about ways they can support their student.

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