The general reaction of The Jambar office when we heard that Youngstown State University President Randy Dunn was going to nix the open enrollment policy was a healthy mix between “Holy shit!” and “Finally.”
YSU was the last bastion of open enrollment among public universities in the state of Ohio. Under open enrollment, any student from the state with a high school diploma or a GED would be accepted into the university.
For many of us, this policy was an identifying symbol of what YSU was — a place where anyone could come and make something of themselves, a place that reflected the blue collar ethic of the city itself. Getting rid of open enrollment changes what some may consider part of the identity of YSU, hence the first reaction.
Others, though, felt that the open enrollment policy was holding the university back from its full potential. By accepting anyone and giving them their fair chance at success, YSU was a lesser institution in some people’s eyes because of lower graduation rates and an overall lower quality of student — in his announcement, Dunn said that some students had been accepted with ACT scores between 6 and 12.
But that debate is over. From here on out, YSU is no longer open enrollment and that’s probably a good thing for the university in the long run. Sure, the university may lose some enrollment, which is always a hot button topic these days, and Dunn estimates that the university will lose 25 to 50 students per school year with this policy change.
But while a declining enrollment has meant a lower revenue recently, that isn’t necessarily the case here; the school will see that lost revenue be made up in money received from a higher graduation rate that comes with students who are better prepared for college.
In recent years, people at YSU have been discussing some sort of partnership with Eastern Gateway Community College. This move makes that partnership more appealing. Students who do not meet YSU’s new requirements, whatever they may be, can and most likely will be referred to EGCC. By going there, they can get an education that will prepare them for YSU or one that will provide them with the skills they need without the four year money drain that they would struggle through at YSU.
Ten years from now, 20 years from now, hell, probably for the rest of YSU’s hopefully long and illustrious existence, this will be looked at as a new era for the university and for the Mahoning Valley. With this move, people in the area have two choices on higher education and will have the ability to choose whichever better suits them, and more higher education is rarely a bad thing.