BGSU wants to lure non-traditional students

Students walk across
campus Wednesday afternoon. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)

The student in Bowling Green State University’s future will not be your father’s college student, but it
may be a student’s father.
Facing a decline in the college-age population, university officials are looking to attract
non-traditional students, that includes older students who may want to return to complete degrees after
years away from campus, and it may include those now employed who want to study part time to get
professional masters degrees.
Those are just a few of the ideas put forward at Tuesday’s Faculty Senate meeting.
The senate took a different tack when tackling the issue that is seen as a key to the university’s
financial health in the future.
After hearing a presentation by Provost Rodney Rogers, senators broke into small groups of a half-dozen
or so to discuss ways to attract this new kind of student.
That’s necessary because the core of BGSU’s student body remains between the ages of 18 to 22. That part
of the population is expected to decline nationally, and even more so in Ohio and Michigan.
Those new prospects include students starting in community college, international students and
out-of-state students.
Rogers said about 91 percent of the university’s student body are traditional students, with 1.4 percent
international students, 3.1 percent transfers from community college, 3.6 percent professional masters
degree students and 1 percent returning adult students completing a degree.
In her remarks President Mary Ellen Mazey noted that there’s a market for serving adult students. In the
area, she said 24 percent of adults have a college degree and that’s well behind both the state and
national average.
"In many cases we have not served those students in the best way we could," Rogers said.
"Do we have appropriate degree programs?" he asked. "Do we have appropriate support
programs?"
Rogers said the university is working more closely with its Firelands campus, which has open admissions,
to bring in students who may not initially be eligible for enrollment at the main campus.
Through this program those students are offered admission to the BGSU Firelands, but reside in Bowling
Green. Those students are grouped together and take a specific set of courses taught by Firelands
faculty. If they successfully complete the year-long program they are admitted to the university.
After the half-hour of breakout sections, a few senators shared ideas that came up in their groups.
John Folkins said that faculty from Firelands in the group he was in proposed reaching out to parents at
the same time the university is reaching out to their children.
Some institutions, Folkins said, bring promising high school students to campus for enrichment activities
on weekends. Programs for parents should also be offered.
Laura Landry-Meyer said that changing the times when courses are offered would make education more
accessible.
Amelia Carr said making the bursar and financial aid offices "a little more student friendly"
would also help. Students who are having financial problems could receive more help "to get them
out of default."
Also, Carr said, admissions should be clear about what credits will transfer.