Guest column: INTO CSU – a path for English learner success

Maite Correa and Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala

Maite Correa and Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala in an INTO CSU classroom in Spruce Hall. Photo by William A. Cotton, CSU Photography

INTO CSU contributes to Colorado State University’s diversity and internationalization efforts by bridging the gap for students from other countries who otherwise would not have been able to pursue a college-level degree in the United States. These students currently represent more than two dozen countries and help to bring the world to CSU’s doorstep, enhancing the campus experience for all our students, faculty and staff. In return, INTO students receive a world-class education that transforms their lives.

Since 2012, INTO CSU has welcomed more than 3,000 international students to the INTO CSU Center. Almost half of the 800 undergraduate and graduate students who have completed English language and academic proficiency programs though INTO have already graduated with one or more CSU degrees. There are INTO CSU alumni employed in diverse industries across the globe – such as Fortune 500 companies, embassies, and the United Nations – and working in prominent positions as software engineers, data analysts, automotive safety engineers and as corporate and investment banking managers, to name just a few. Many others are pursuing advanced degrees.

Language proficiency

INTO students may take the noncredit Academic English (AE) program to improve their English proficiency required to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree in a U.S. institution of higher education.

Others enroll in either the International Year One (IYO) or Graduate Pathway (GPW) program, which focus on the academic skills and the language proficiency needed to complete their degree at CSU successfully. Typically, students come into these programs with a higher level of language proficiency than AE enrollees, but may still need some academic or linguistic support.

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 93% of INTO undergraduate students and 92% of the graduate students who completed an IYO or a GPW program met the requirements needed to enroll at CSU to pursue a degree.

Partnerships across campus

Although progression rates have been consistently high, this is the best performance since the inception of the INTO-CSU partnership, and it is only possible thanks to the skilled and caring faculty and advisors in the INTO Center on campus, and the various partnerships across CSU divisions and academic units.

From annual survey results, we know that students are highly satisfied with their INTO CSU experience. Our most recent survey of students who arrived on campus for Fall 2019 showed that 93% of our students were satisfied with their arrival and orientation experiences.

INTO CSU also has extended its outreach to support CSU in other initiatives that have resulted in the recruitment of international students that come directly into the university, not through INTO CSU. For example, both graduate and undergraduate students with a conditional admission to CSU can take AE courses through INTO CSU.

At the undergraduate level, the Center offers an English for academic purposes course for students in the China programs, and a graduate- level course on academic literacies. In this course, students develop the academic and linguistic skills that they need in order to engage in graduate work and function successfully in their respective academic discourse communities.

By preparing students from all over the world to become Colorado State University students and graduates, INTO CSU is helping them achieve success and an excellent education – and a gateway to a new country and culture.

About the authors

Maite Correa, an associate professor in the Department of Language, Literatures, and Cultures at CSU, is INTO CSU’s Academic Director.

Fabiola Ehlers-Zavala, a full professor in the Department of English at CSU, is INTO CSU’s Executive Director.