Changes on entry showing signs of success

By Denise Dick


It’s too soon to say whether a conditional admission change at Youngstown State University has produced the desired effect, but officials see positive indications as they provide additional support to students.

Jack Fahey, vice president for student affairs, said he believes the change is working, but officials won’t know until first-semester grades are finalized.

The change in policy is still in its early stages, added Jonelle Beatrice, director of the Center for Student Progress.

The change meant that more students are conditionally admitted; 348 students were conditionally admitted this fall compared with 279 in fall 2011.

Students are admitted under conditional status if their high school grade-point average is below 2.0 or their composite ACT is below 17, or their critical reading and math composite on the SAT is below 820.

Previously, students with both a below-2.0 GPA and below-17 ACT were admitted conditionally.

Those students must meet stricter requirements to stay at the university than before. It’s a way to help them and provide needed support, she said.

The students are required to attend freshman orientation and if they fail to, their admittance will be deferred to a subsequent semester.

It also requires conditionally admitted students to fulfill a contract with the Center for Student Progress, which includes meeting weekly with an academic coordinator and two times during the term with their college academic adviser.

Fahey said the different colleges have met and discussed their individual strategies to share what’s working well. What’s working well in one college will likely be incorporated in others, he said.

Beatrice said that about 80 percent of those conditionally admitted signed the contract — that’s more than before the change.

For the other 20 percent, if they don’t achieve a grade point average that ranks them in good academic standing, they will be dismissed.

If that happens, center personnel talk with the student about other options.

“Maybe it’s not the right place at the right time,” she said.

The student may fare better at Eastern Gateway Community College or by taking classes through the Youngstown Adult Basic Literary Education program.

The new contract not only requires regular meetings with academic advisers but also mandates attendance at tutoring sessions as assigned, follow-up on referrals to campus resources, attendance at all classes and cellphones to be turned off during meetings.

Failure to meet guidelines during the first semester and to achieve good academic standing, which is a GPA of at least 1.75, will cause the conditionally-admitted student to be dismissed from YSU.

They will have to sit out for one academic year.

“It’s not punitive,” Beatrice said.

Research shows that students rack up debt while in school, but many don’t seek the needed academic support, she said.

“We know when they do [seek support], they can be successful,” Beatrice said.

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