In the newly enrolled class of freshmen, 1,717 students scored an average of 21.07 on the ACT, along with a grade-point average of 3.12. Despite the predicted drop in enrollment this semester, these are the highest GPAs and ACT scores of incoming freshmen in Youngstown State University’s history.
Gary Swegan, associate vice president for enrollment planning and management, said that the university has risen above the national average with these ACT scores.
“To the general public this does not mean much, but statistically speaking … if you increase your freshmen class by one-tenth of a point that is considered statistically significant, and we’re increasing by .58. In a three year period, we are up 1.04 which, granted, it’s not like ours is still high, but I think probably for the first time in our history we are above the national average. We need to do what we are doing, but do it in a wider way and grow the quantities,” he said.
He added that scores were particularly high this year because of a drop in the number of lower achievement students signing up at YSU, as a result of the changes made by Randy Dunn, prior president of the university, to the conditional enrollment policy in 2013. The university is losing 293 freshmen students that had GPAs of less than 3.0.
“The scores are better this year because we are down about 290 students in the freshmen class — we are down 293 that were conditionally admitted. In other words, the entire decline is in lower-end students that simply had a lower chance of making it to start with. We are down 143 in the freshmen class with an 18 or lower for the ACT. We are down about 300 in the freshmen class that have less than a 3.0 grade point average,” Swegan said.
Swegan said YSU’s new strategy for increasing enrollment is to look for students that are more prepared for college rather than those that are not.
“It was the whole notion that we have got to bring in students that can be successful. Our strategic approach is even though our class went down much further than what you had wanted it to, this was something that we have to do for the health of the institution. The bigger question is how are we going to get more of the qualified students?” he said.
Even though the scores of the freshmen were high, Swegan said a drop in enrollment is still problematic.
“That’s not necessarily a good thing. I’m not saying it’s necessarily a bragging point, but it does explain why and where we are down, and where we are down universally is students who are at the lower end of the achievement scale,” he said.
Swegan said that he has high hopes for student enrollment numbers next year.
“I’ve got a theory that says four years from now you’ll still have as many seniors as you would have had with the 2,000 last year. That’s where it is tough,” he said. “While your enrollment is declining and all the public sees is head count, which they equate to success, it is tough to take those lumps, but 2015 is when we start to fight back.”
Additional Reporting by Liam Bouquet.