Wednesday, September 6, 2017 More Students Find Their Path To CALS

Written by Dr. John Dole, Associate Dean and Director of Academic ProgramsCollege of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University.

It’s the start of a new academic year, and thanks to your support, more students have found their Path to CALS (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) than in recent years – 839 students to be exact.

This year CALS received 2,116 applications – a 10 percent year-over-year increase – with 452 incoming freshman, an increase of 110 students from last fall. Roughly 54 percent of all applicants were accepted, with 46 percent of these students coming from rural North Carolina.

For many students – especially those from rural and farming communities – gaining access or acceptance to a CALS 4-year degree can be difficult. Student access is a top priority for the university and CALS.

That’s why we are growing existing programs and implementing new systems to provide different paths to campus for a variety of students. We wanted to share a few updates on our progress.

READ: Finding Your Path to CALS

Nominate A Student
This new online student identification process allows teachers, advisors, Extension agents, and others to tell us about students they think would be great for CALS. Most of the 102 nominated students who applied to CALS this year were from rural counties, and most were nominated for under-enrolled degree programs.

Of the 102 nominated applicants, 41 were admitted for the fall, 11 were admitted via Spring Connection, 19 transferred into the college, 5 were admitted to STEAM (the Student Enrollment Advising and Mentoring program), 1 was waitlisted, 4 were denied and 21 were deferred.

We are always looking for successful students. If you know of a great student, tell us who they are so we can contact them. While we cannot guarantee admission to CALS, we can help every student put their best foot forward.

The Nominate a Student website is open again for this application season:

Spring Connection
Working with the university, we helped create a new spring semester admission option for freshman – Spring Connection. Students were largely accepted into under-enrolled degree programs in the crop and soil sciences, horticulture, plant biology, poultry science and others, with classes starting in the spring. Students can use the fall semester to gain work experience through an internship or attend classes at a local community college.

NC State invited 1,200 students to participate in Spring Connection, and 93 were prospective CALS students. Of the 93, 50 have enrolled (54 percent), and we have confirmed the fall plans for these students – 43 are planning to attend community colleges and 3 other universities 4 are planning to work.

Agricultural Institute – 2-Year Degrees
Not all students need or want a 4-year degree. NC State’s highly acclaimed Agricultural Institute (AGI) provides career-ready students a hands-on technical education through a variety of 2-year associates degrees.

AGI offers six concentrations ranging from agribusiness management to landscape technology, with unique enrichment opportunities outside the classroom that provide valuable real-world experience.

Whether a student needs to hone his or her skills to jump into the agricultural workforce, prepare to start their own business or get back to the family farm, AGI helps students hit the ground running.

This past year, AGI accepted 155 students.

PackTrac and Community College Partnerships
We continue to partner with NC Community Colleges across the state to provide students a 1+3 or 2 +2 path to a CALS degree, and have created PackTrac – a new collaborative effort with a growing number of community colleges.

PackTrac provides specialized academic training and advising to students with a passion for agriculture and a desire to earn their degree from NC State. This program delivers a well-defined and supported transfer path to CALS after one or two years.

These combined efforts have yielded 176 transfers for Summer Session and the Fall 2017 Semester, up from 153 transfers last year.

Rural Acceptance
Equally important, as a result of Spring Connection and the STEAM program, we are extending admission to students from some of the state’s most economically distressed counties – our Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties.

For Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties, 64% and 62% of applicants, respectively, were admitted for the Fall Semester, Spring Connection, or invited to participate in STEAM.

Focus on Future Students
Our ASPIRE (ACT Supplemental Preparation in Rural Education) program helps increase rural high school students’ performance on the ACT College Entrance Examination. Scholarships are available for participants and ASPIRE can be found in more than 25 counties.

We also host a number of summer experience programs on campus and around the state, and have increased the number of freshmen admissions scholarships offered. This year, 56 percent of freshmen scholarship offers were accepted — twice as many as last year.

You Can Help
CALS grads are in high demand and more students are needed in both our four-year and two-year degree programs to keep agriculture and the life sciences growing in North Carolina. We are committed to helping all qualified students find their path to our campus, and we couldn’t do it without your support.

As always, we want to work with our alumni, friends and partners to help future students join the Pack. Please continue to share information about the many pathways available to all students interested in CALS. To learn more, visit us online at

Please also help us identify strong students who will thrive at CALS. If you know a high school student or a transfer student you would recommend for undergraduate studies, tells us about them by visiting We will contact both you and the student to discuss their options.

Thank you for your continued support of the college and our students. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me and the CALS Academic Programs team at 919.515.2614.

Go Pack!