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YSU sees growth in graduate programs

YOUNGSTOWN — Sal Sanders is happy to see that, against a bleak backdrop of projected revenue losses and decreased enrollment, some of Youngstown State University’s numbers are moving in the opposite direction.

“Students are likely to go where there’s less resistance to get in,” he said.

Sanders, YSU’s dean of graduate studies, was referring last week to certain barriers that have been removed to attract additional students to the university. He also mentioned efforts to increase student retention.

Those are a significant part of the reason YSU has seen a 12 percent increase in graduate program enrollment this fall, compared to the same time last year, he noted.

The fall semester begins Aug. 29.

The university has placed a high emphasis on streamlining, optimizing, revising and minimizing admission requirements for YSU’s more than 55 graduate programs, many of which have various specializations and coursework. The effort includes nixing having prospective students present letters of recommendation and taking the Graduate Record Examinations standardized test, said Sanders, who also is the assistant provost for cyber learning.

Another major strategic initiative for students from outside of the Mahoning Valley to consider YSU was vastly reducing the out-of-state surcharge for many of them from $250 per credit hour to $5, Sanders noted.

In addition, the university has worked with its online partners to increase marketing efforts especially targeting international students. About 52 percent of graduate students are enrolled in online coursework, he explained.

To that end, an on-campus program has been set up to recruit especially international students to the College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Also, enrollment has been boosted in YSU’s computer-information systems program, Sanders said.

Specifically, enrollment in the computer program is up 457 percent this year, with 68 students and the expectation of more, compared to last year with 12, he pointed out.

An increase of slightly more than 300 percent has been seen in the university’s Doctorate in Educational Leadership program, which jumped from 13 students last year to 55 this year, Sanders continued.

Also offered online is a number of nursing programs for undergraduates and those earning master’s degrees, he said.

Nevertheless, retention is more valuable than recruitment largely because efforts must be in place to ensure students have positive experiences and opportunities for success during their time at YSU. Those scenarios are likely to result in graduates and undergraduates sharing such experiences with others, Sanders added.

Other efforts toward enhancing admissions and retention include certain curriculum changes, continued marketing, recruiting and retention by stakeholders in all colleges and additional initiatives via the International Programs Office and the Office of Marketing and Communication, Sanders said in a statement.

Fall semester classes begin at month’s end, but the official and more accurate student count takes place on the 14th day, because some typically add or drop certain classes by that time, Sanders explained.

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