Bethany College’s fall student body is the largest enrolled in over 15 years. With 665 students, the student body increased 8.3 percent from last fall. Driving the growth is the freshmen class, which grew to 184 students, up 40.5 percent from last fall. This is the largest freshmen class since 1997.
“We are tremendously excited to welcome our newest Swedes to Bethany,” says President Edward F. Leonard III. “Outstanding recruitment efforts and strong student retention make this a record-setting student body and the fifth year in the last six that enrollment has increased.”
Overall student retention from last spring is 84.3 percent with freshman-to-sophomore retention at its best in a decade at 75 percent. With this large of a student body, Bethany’s housing capacity is currently at 101 percent. A small number of students have been moved off-campus to the local Coronado Hotel, where a resident director ensures they have the same high-quality Bethany experience and opportunities as they would on campus.
Beginning in 2007, Bethany’s enrollment has trended upward, growing 24 percent in the past six years. In 2012, the single year in that time period without growth, Bethany experienced the nationwide trend of decreasing enrollment, which the U.S. Census Bureau reported as a loss of 467,000 students across U.S. colleges.
“This class puts Bethany back on our path to our Engage the Future goals after we weathered the economic conditions with the rest of the country last year. Now we are exploring housing options to meet the increased demand next fall and in the years to come,” says Leonard. “We look forward to growing our community and providing more students with the Bethany experience.”
Over the past year, the Bethany experience has been transformed by new initiatives. Bethany Pathway, a bold and innovative way of thinking about the first two years of college, blends all curricular and co-curricular activities seamlessly together. Students’ pursuits are grounded in Bethany’s core values and are guided by the four Missional Directions of Excellence—discovery, reflection, and vocation; global citizenship; servant leadership; and sustainable living. As they learn more about themselves and their vocations, they document their Pathways in e-portfolios, which showcase their skills to graduate schools and future employers.
Bethany students also now have the opportunity to pursue education in media arts via its satellite Bethany College @ MindFire Academy campus in Wichita. This exciting combination of Bethany’s strong liberal arts education and accredited programs with MindFire Academy’s cutting-edge technology offers certificates in 3D computer animation, digital filmmaking, video game design, and audio recording arts as well as a Bachelor of Arts in media arts with a focus in 3D animation.
This student body is also one of the most diverse Bethany has enrolled. Students hail from 32 states within the U.S. and from 19 international countries. Of the population, non-white students make up 29% and international students make up 6.2 percent.