Third Party Expected to Enhance Enrollment

By Ashley Smith

Last fall, Youngstown State University made the effort to improve enrollment by hiring the third-party enrollment manager Royall & Company. Though the full impact of this hire cannot yet be determined, administrators have pointed to some preliminary signs of success.

Royall’s primary role is to increase the pool of applicants available to YSU. Comparing last year’s application statistics to this year’s, it would appear that Royall has done its job.

Elaine Ruse, director of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, noted the increase in offered scholarships partly due to Royall and Company’s involvement.

“Last year at this time we had offered approximately 450 scholarships in kind of our main program; this year we’ve offered 1,400 to students who have been accepted. A lot of that has to do with Royall & Company going out and kind of widening that net and attracting more students to apply to the university,” Ruse said.

Not only has the number of offered scholarships increased, but the number of in-state and out-of-state students who have applied and been admitted has also increased.

Comparing students who were admitted in fall 2014 to students already admitted for fall 2015, there has also been an increase in ACT scores and high school grade point averages — a positive sign for a university that relies on state funding, which has become increasingly tied to graduation rates.

“More good students have applied that we’ve offered scholarships to, so that’s a positive sign — to be so far ahead of that curve. So we’re cautiously optimistic,” Ruse said. “May 1 is the universal date that students have to accept their scholarship offer. So we should have a better idea on or after May 1. If many of these students have gone ahead and accepted the merit offer, then hopefully that means they’re going to follow through and enroll for that semester.”

Gary Swegan, associate vice president of enrollment and management, explained that Royall will only have a minimal impact on this spring’s enrollment numbers, even though next fall’s enrollment numbers are expected to be positively impacted.

He summarized the task of Royall, explaining that the university’s “work with Royall is really just about the freshman market.”

“[Royall] engaged with us and our contract with them was to start looking at high school seniors, so that won’t come into effect until the fall,” Swegan said. “[Royall] built the new online applications for us, and when they put those on the website, students that are applying for spring would have applied through the online app. But, we didn’t do any marketing to them, so their work did not touch the spring people.”

YSU creates a budget based not on headcount enrollment numbers, but on a number referred to as a full-time equivalence measurement, or FTE — a statistical analysis that combines the total number of credit hours students are currently taking at YSU, and divides this total by twelve. YSU’s FTE was down by 6.3 percent last fall and is expected to be down 4.72 percent this spring.