By Jeff Brown
Youngstown State University held its first ever iExcel day on Nov. 5. The day was designed to bring underprivileged, first generation and underrepresented high school students to YSU and show them that they can in fact attend YSU.
Near the beginning of the event, Jim Tressel, the president of YSU, addressed the students about the advantages of a university education and the university itself.
“We are excited you are here; please ask any questions you can think of. There is no silly question. … Because this is a huge step for you,” Tressel said. “I’m going to graduate in four years, or less, and I am going to leave here with as little or no debt as I can. I am going to go out and tackle the world because I am going to be prepared through my academics; I am going to be prepared through all the activities I’ve been a part of; I am going to have a network of people.”
The event brought in high school students from all around the Youngstown area to meet with members of the YSU community and show them that YSU may be the right place for them.
“We wanted to put students that were underrepresented in colleges, first generation that are going to college and low income to experience a day here at Youngstown State by meeting YSU staff, current YSU students, alumni, faculty members,” Maggie McClendon, assistant director of admissions, said.
McClendon thinks the iExcel event gets a different type of student involved — students that would not normally attend other YSU recruiting events such as YSU’s annual Crash Day.
“It’s similar to Crash Day, but not quite in the fact that we actually had gotten individuals involved that typically wouldn’t be involved in the crash day,” McClendon said. “By meeting with us today they can see that they have opportunities to not only get involved on our campus as a student, but they will also learn how to do a mentoring program that gives them scholarship money.”
Tressel emphasized the importance of interacting with the YSU community outside of the classroom through clubs, student groups, campus jobs and the variety of other opportunities available to students.
“You have to be good at your academic major, gain all the knowledge you can possibly gain, but then you have to do other things. Get involved in activities that help you grow in your ability to communicate, grow in your ability to work together with other people,” he said. “Go to do things and experience things and go maybe outside of your comfort zone.”
Bill Border, the coordinator of Academic Achievers at YSU, said the event helped to show high school students that there are resources on campus they may be unaware of that can help them to achieve their academic goals.
“Most of them don’t realize that when they run into different problems, they’re trying to navigate the system that there are people out there to help them,” Border said. “I think there was a lot of good information that was given today. A lot of good resources from different departments.”
Faculty and staff across the various departments detailed the resources on campus that are conducive to success such as the Math Assistance Center, the Writing Center and the Center for Student Progress.
McClendon thinks that the iExcell program will cause a rise in enrollment from these types of high school students, who would typically not consider YSU.
“Pretty much what we we’re trying to do was kind of bring down the barrier and show them that people such as themselves are already here and we’re here to help them — people that are relevant and significant to their success,” she said.