High school students in the San Luis Valley will now have a more direct path to university

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Adams State University in the San Luis Valley on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021.

Adams State University is piloting a first-of-its-kind direct admission program for San Luis Valley high school students.

The Alamosa-based university said they are launching the program to assist first-generation and low-income students who may be discouraged from applying to a college program. According to U.S. Census data from 2020, about 30 percent of residents in Alamosa, the largest city in the San Luis Valley, have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher. 

The pilot program simplifies the application process for students graduating from San Luis Valley school districts. If a high schooler expresses interest in the program, admissions staff and student ambassadors will obtain their transcripts and help them fill out applications for Adams State and relevant scholarships.

During the pilot program, the simplified admissions process will only be available for 2024 graduates. 

Adams State University is among hundreds of colleges nationwide struggling to return to pre-pandemic enrollment rates. The university said about 2,770 undergraduate and graduate students were enrolled in fall 2023. That’s almost 600 heads short of its 2019 enrollment, according to state data.

Higher education officials statewide are seeking ways to improve enrollment at Colorado’s colleges, especially among in-state high school students. Many of those students have chosen to pursue cheaper college degrees out-of-state or have opted to forego college altogether. 

Lawmakers passed a law during the latest legislative session that creates a refundable state income tax for in-state students to cover the cost of the first two years of college. The bill is awaiting Governor Jared Polis’ signature.