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Highlights November 20, 2003

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Nontraditional students always had a role at Cleveland State

Cleveland State University’s future builds on a history of serving nontraditional students.

It all began in 1870 with free evening classes in French and German at the YMCA. Today it has become quite the urban university.

Established in 1964 as a state-assisted university, Cleveland State was to provide a public, higher education to people in the greater Cleveland and Northern Ohio area.

Merging with Fenn College and the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law allowed the new university to grow and thrive.

Throughout the years, CSU has served nontraditional students balancing families, jobs and classes, requiring them to take six years or more to complete their degrees.

However, the state now judges universities on graduation and retention rates, penalizing schools like CSU who serve the non-traditional student and favoring those that cater to traditional 18-21 year-olds.

CSU President Michael Schwartz recently noted, “We are judged by our retention rates and our graduation rates for first-time, full-time freshman and our numbers are grim.”

Like other schools across the country, CSU is trying to improve retention and graduation rates.

A project at Indiana University in Bloomington recently was launched to help colleges and universities find and share programs and practices that do just that.

Everyone gets something different from his or her education and opinions vary about the value of higher education in the United States and at CSU in general.

Kathleen Grospitch, who has wor-ked in CSU’s Government Relations Department since 1980, said, “CSU is a very important community resource and education has enriched my life by giving me access to many ways of seeing and doing.”

While she realizes the positive effect that education has had on her life, students taking classes often feel that education is a burden that must be endured to get a job. Cost is generally the main issue that students address.

Schwartz also is concerned that the cost of higher education just keeps rising.

“Higher education accounts for 12 percent of the state budget, but in the last several years has absorbed 50 percent of the cuts,” he said.

CSU alone has experienced three cuts in state support, including a recent cut of $1.67 million dollars.

Cuts like this have triggered substantial increases in tuition that students have difficulty paying.

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