TWIN FALLS — The College of Southern Idaho is expecting fewer students on campus, but they’re taking more classes.
Across south-central Idaho, students are gearing up for fall semester. Classes begin Aug. 20 at CSI’s main Twin Falls campus, and its centers in Jerome, Gooding, Burley and Hailey.
Predicting enrollment numbers, though, is tougher than years past. One major reason for that: About 51 percent of CSI’s student headcount is high schoolers who are taking dual credit classes, allowing them to earn high school and college credits simultaneously.
When looking at enrollment, “whether or not dual credit is included has a profound impact,” said Chris Bragg, associate dean of institutional effectiveness. “It’s really a lot more difficult than it used to be to look apples-to-apples over five years.”
As of Thursday, CSI has a total headcount of 3,820 students — about a 5 percent decline compared with the same time last year.
Despite being just 10 days away from a new semester, enrollment will likely climb later on. Bragg expects total headcount to surpass 7,000.
Enrollment numbers depend a lot on when dual credit registrations come in and when high schools offer dual credit classes. Last school year, the bulk of the dual credit numbers counted toward CSI’s spring semester enrollment, Bragg said.
There has been a massive uptick in the number of teenagers taking classes through CSI. That’s because each high schooler can receive up to $4,125 in state funding to use toward paying for dual credit classes through the state’s Advanced Opportunities program.
Another factor behind CSI’s enrollment numbers could be a mandatory new student orientation. Some students who intend to register for fall classes haven’t been through orientation yet. There’s one more session left at the Twin Falls, Burley and Hailey campuses before fall semester begins.
If you’re a new degree-seeking student — or a returning student who hasn’t been enrolled at CSI in more than two years — you’re required to attend an orientation session called S.O.A.R. (Student Orientation, Advising & Registration). That applies whether you’re a full-time or part-time student.
Despite having fewer students on campus at CSI, those enrolled tend to be taking more classes.
“We have actually fewer people here, but they are taking more credits,” Bragg said.
College officials encourage students to try to go to college full-time if it’s feasible. “For some people, it’s not,” Bragg said.
Recent national reports show if a student can enroll full-time even for just one semester — instead of part-time — it significantly increases the odds they’ll complete a degree or certificate, Bragg said.
For students who only ever attend college part-time, he said, it’s a long road to earn a degree and life often happens along the way.
If you’re considering signing up for classes, it’s not too late — the registration deadline is noon Aug. 22.
“If you’re starting from zero today, you’re probably not going to have all of your ducks in a row by the start of the semester,” Bragg said, but added CSI officials would love to help students get started and ready for spring semester.