Honors and graduate colleges see substantial enrollment growth

The Sokolov Honors College is located on Tressel Way. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

By Nicholas Bianco
Jambar Contributor

Youngstown State University’s honors and graduate programs have seen an increase in student populations despite an overall decline in student enrollment.

Enrollment for the Sokolov Honors College has more than tripled in the last 10 years. Amy Cossentino, dean of Sokolov Honors College, said only 350 students were enrolled in 2014, but in fall 2022, the college had over 1,240 students.

Cossentino said the college has also seen an enrollment increase in specific areas.

“Where we might have a flat in domestic student enrollment, we’re seeing an increase in our international student enrollment,” Cossentino said. “We’ve had an increase in the number of students who have come from outside of the five-county area.”

While the overall decline in enrollment may negatively affect some programs, Cossentino said the function of the honors college will not be disrupted. 

“We have operated with serving 350 students, we’re now operating with serving 1,300 students,” Cossentino said. “What will change is we would have more time to invest with fewer student. The quality that we offer to students will not be impacted.” 

According to Cossentino, Sokolov Honors College plans to work with its advisory board, students, faculty and community partners to ensure quality experiences for students. 

“It’s a daily strategy to pull together our group so we can brainstorm and then plan out our actions,” Cossentino said. “One of the things we’re looking at as a college is how do we maintain the quality of experience for the students if we maintain this enrollment level.”

Similar to the Sokolov Honors College, enrollment for the College of Graduate Studies has also been on the rise. 

Sal Sanders, dean of the College of Graduate Studies, said enrollment has been up over the past five years, especially with online programs. 

“[We had] 1,100 students in the fall of 2019, now 1,220 students in fall of 2023,” Sanders said. “Our [online Masters of Business Administration] program has seen a significant increase.” 

The College of Graduate Studies is located on Tressel Way. Photo by Dylan Lux / The Jambar

The college is ensuring enrollment continues to increase with several initiatives, including improving the application process.

“Some of the things that we plan to do in the future is working on making our admissions process applicant focused,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the college plans to minimize the process of accepting applicants through streamlining, which is the separating of students into different classes based on their intellectual or academic ability.

“We’ve done a lot of work in that area already and changed a lot of policies and procedures along those lines of work,” Sanders said.  

According to Sanders, the college is also working to make programs more accessible.

Sanders said the college will collaborate with program directors to establish additional and combined master’s and bachelor’s programs to allow undergraduate students to take graduate courses for dual credit. 

“That’s a huge recruiting tool in some cases to recruit some of your better students while they’re undergraduates,” Sanders said. “Students [can] have nine hours out of a 30-hour degree done if they decide to go for master’s.” 

Because of competition with other universities, the college is also making efforts to minimize the requirements needed for graduate programs. 

 “We still want to make sure that we have the appropriate requirements in place that are necessary but eliminating anything that’s not necessary,” Sanders said. “If we don’t admit students quickly, someone else offers them an acceptance.”