Former Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel spoke to students at Hayes High School on a snowy Tuesday night in a talk he called “College 101,” which included advice and a pitch to enroll at Youngstown State University.
“At an enrollment of 12,500 students, we feel Youngstown State combines the intimacy of Ohio Wesleyan University with the opportunities of Ohio State University,” Tressel said. Last year, Tressel and his wife, Ellen, made a $1 million pledge to create a Student Work Opportunity Endowment Fund at YSU, which the university’s web site calls “an initiative to help expand student employment opportunities on campus.”
Tressel is now president at YSU, the same school where he was previously the football coach and executive director of athletics. At both schools, his teams won national championships in their respective football divisions.
“There are some things that keep you up at night,” he said. “For me, it used to be that team up north. Now, it’s student debt. There’s $1.3 trillion in student debt.”
Tressel said student debt may prevent an entrepreneur with a groundbreaking product from getting a startup loan.
“If you can walk into the world with no debt, you’re ahead of most college graduates,” he said. “Financial literacy is the key.”
Students were told to get good grades, take advanced placement courses to save on tuition, participate in extracurricular activities because companies want to see if you’re a team player, apply for federal student aid, and try to get as many scholarships as possible.
Tressel said that just as he did as a coach, he encourages students to visit many colleges.
“When I was recruiting in football, I always wanted them to visit other schools to make sure they’re making the best choice — what fits best for you.”
YSU freshman Lexi Rager, who also spoke to the students, said she picked the school after visiting several others because of its opportunities, and because “it felt like a second home.”
Tressel said you should ask a college for its success stories. Among those for YSU, he said, were athlete/sports broadcaster Ron Jaworski, actor Ed O’Neill and senior Ashley Orr, who was recently named a Rhodes Scholar. Tressel said YSU is the fourth public university in Ohio to have a student win the award.
“If you come here, you can get there,” Tressel said. “I can go anywhere in the world from here.”
Tressel closed by telling students to increase their excellence, and asked them to join him on stage for a group photo he would Tweet.
“You were my team tonight, and I couldn’t shut up,” he said, after going over the time for which he was scheduled.