YSU Sees Record Turnout for Recruitment Event

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Lucas Huffman, a senior at Champion High School, hasn’t made up his mind as to where he wants to attend college next year, but Youngstown State University is definitely on his radar.

“They have a good music school, and I’m interested in going into a music career so it’s possible I’d go to Dana [School of Music],” he says. “I know a lot of people who came out of Dana and I have connections with that.”

Huffman was among the 1,400 students or so representing more than 200 high schools across eight states that attended this year’s Crash Day at YSU, an all-time record number for the event, officials say.

Parents, high school administrators, and hundreds of students filed into the Watson and Tressel Training Site, or Watts, Friday morning to get a taste of what life is like as a student here.

Huffman says YSU has many advantages, one of which is that it’s close enough for him to commute from Champion Township. “It’s very close to home, the classrooms are very nice – they’re state-of-the art, the restaurants around campus are very good, too.”

And, several of his friends from school are expecting to attend YSU next year. “A lot of them are interested in YSU,” he says.

Carol Robb, a resident of East Palestine, says her son graduates from high school this year and has already signed up for classes at YSU.

“They have a good reputation with their business school and that’s what my son is interested in,” Robb says. Her eldest son – another business major — plans to graduate from YSU this year and has had a great experience.

“It’s also close by, and he was always interested in coming here,” he says.

Crash Day invites students, their parents, teachers and school administrators to YSU each year so that they can get a firsthand look at the campus, meet faculty, and get to know some of the students.

Students select a particular field of interest – such as engineering or literature, for example – and are then directed in groups to attend functions organized by their specific college.

About 700 students were pre-registered for programs related to YSU’s College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, or STEM, reports Greg Sturrus, dean of STEM. “That’s just in our college alone,” he notes.

Gary Swegan, YSU associate vice president of enrollment management, says pre-registration for Crash Day stood at 1,749 students. Typically, between 70% and 80% of those registered attend, so Friday’s number is likely to come in around 1,400 students, he says.

What is heartening for Swegan is that attendance at these events continues to grow.

“Last year, we had 1,010 students,” Swegan says. “The year before, we had 478.”

Swegan adds that events such as Crash Day play an important role in recruiting students – most of them local and regional – to YSU. “We were up about 90% in applications last year,” he says. “We’re up another 55% over that this year.”

The university has expended its marketing reach and is seeing success in drawing students from parts of the state or country that normally wouldn’t consider YSU, Swegan says.

Enrollment in fall 2014, for example, drew from 37 counties in Ohio. This fall, the number of Ohio counties represented at YSU grew to 54.

“I would hope that grows this year,” he says. Crash Day 2015 also attracted students from the Pittsburgh area, and at pre-registration, six states in addition to Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Should pre-registration figures continue to increase at this pace, Swegan says the university might look to hosting two Crash Days instead of one.

“Our entire university community has been working really hard to get the message out to people that they need to come and check us out,” YSU President Jim Tressel said. “This is a record turnout for us.”

Events such as these are important to reach prospective students, since it’s difficult to bring them to campus on a one-on-one basis, Tressel says. “Still, we’d like them to come back one more time so they can figure out what’s the best thing for them academically and financially.”

Jenette Timko, a student at McDonald High School, says she loves the campus and likes the idea that the school is close to home. “I’m going to go into telecommunications and one day work at a news station and be on a camera crew or do editing,” she says. “I hear they have a great program. A lot of people that I look up to went here.”

McDonald High School Principal Gary Carkido says he brought about 70 students with him to Crash Day, and he thinks there’s strong interest among them about attending YSU.

“Most of the kids are familiar with Youngstown State because they’ve attended sporting events here,” he says. “But I don’t think they’re as familiar with the academics and different programs, so this is a great chance for them to come check those things out.”

Carkido says these events help his students understand the different programs available YSU offers, which may help them to decide what field they would like to pursue as a career in the future.

“Maybe going through and visiting some of these programs, they might have some different thoughts,” he says.

Carkido says his students also have respect for Tressel, who assumed the presidency less than two years ago. “He visits a lot of high schools in the area, so they’re familiar with him. There’s no doubt he plays a big part of bringing kids to YSU.”

Pictured: YSU President Jim Tressel greets Kassandra Krauss, Maria Kenner and Amber DeCaprio at Friday’s event.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.