New efforts instituted to increase enrollment
The four-year trend of increasing enrollments came to a halt last fall.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Officials at Youngstown State University are launching a renewed effort to get enrollment numbers growing again.
The university had experienced four years of continuously growing fall student enrollments, peaking at 13,101 in the fall of 2004.
The numbers had been expected to continue to grow in fall 2005, but the trend stopped when enrollment reached only 12,812, a decline of 2.2 percent.
August 2005 strikes by both the faculty and classified employee unions at the university might have been a contributing factor, officials say, as some students could have chosen to go elsewhere rather than risk losing part of a school year because of a strike.
As it turned out, both strikes ended just as classes were to begin, and no classroom time was lost.
Making a push
Dr. Cynthia Andersen, vice president for student affairs, told the YSU Board of Trustees last week that the Office of Admissions has new initiatives to spur enrollment.
YSU representatives have been visiting high schools in the region offering a Conditional Application Program, which allows prospective students to enroll with the understanding that their final acceptance will be based primarily on their final high school transcripts.
The university also held a "Red, White and You Day" in February, bringing prospective students to campus to show them what YSU has to offer.
Additionally, telephone calls are being made to all students who have previously sent in incomplete applications, offering assistance in completing those forms.
The admissions office is also following up with students who sent their ACT scores to YSU but didn't file an enrollment application, Anderson said, noting there are about 2,500 students in that category.
The admissions office will also buy the names of the February and April 2006 ACT test takers to contact with the intent of providing them with information about YSU.
The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships is also involved, Anderson said, contacting prospective students about scholarship possibilities and financial aid offers.
Early indicators for the fall 2006 enrollment are mixed, said Dr. Thomas Maraffa, special assistant to the president and coordinator of the university's enrollment management plan.
YSU draws its primary enrollment numbers from the Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties area, and this spring's high school graduation class from the three counties is up 400 over a year ago, Maraffa said.
YSU typically enrolls 18 percent of that graduating class, so that means the university can potentially expect up to 70-75 more freshmen from that group this fall, he said. About 10 percent of YSU's total enrollment in any given term is made up of new graduates from the tri-county area, he said.
However, spring 2006 enrollment, at 12,192, is down 181 from a year ago, which means 181 students aren't continuing their education at YSU right now and there's no guarantee they will be back in the fall, Maraffa said.