There are two Mennonite Colleges in Harvey County, and this year both are showing increased enrollment. 

Both Bethel College of North Newton and Hesston College report about a 10 percent increase in the number students enrolled this fall. 

Bethel’s overall enrollment went from 460 at this time last year to 503, an increase of 9.34 percent. At Hesston, total student headcount reached 442 in 2017, a 10 percent boost from a headcount of 401 a year prior, and the highest reported enrollment for the college since 2013.

“We are excited about the growth of our incoming class at Bethel this year,” said Andy Johnson, vice president of admissions at Bethel College. “With increases in our traditional population as well as our RN-to-BSN program, we enrolled our largest incoming class in recent memory. With the foundation laid in areas across campus we continue to project positive enrollment growth for 2018 as well.”

The Bethel College Class of 2021 includes seven high-school valedictorians, with 14 percent of freshmen coming from the top 10 percent of their graduating class and 33 percent from the top quarter. Other characteristics of Bethel’s fall 2017 student body: first-time freshmen come from 14 states (Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) in addition to Kansas, with one student from Sweden.

First-time freshmen represent 43 different Kansas high schools, while 21 first-time freshmen are legacy students, meaning a parent, grandparent or sibling has previously attended Bethel. First-time freshmen number 122 and transfers 98. Transfer students come from seven states, with one from England.

 Of the 98 transfer students, 34 are enrolled in Bethel’s RN-to-BSN program.

New programs are key to the growth at Hesston College.  Over the last three years, the college has added or expanded offerings in at least 13 academic and athletic programs.  Some of the changes include shifting from a two-year to a four-year baccalaureate nursing program and adding an RN to BSN component, adding new programs including golf, emergency management, sports management and criminal and restorative justice, and expanding curriculum in aviation, engineering, theatre, biology and graphic design.

“We’re excited to see some of our recruitment and enrollment efforts paying off,” said Rachel Swartzendruber Miller, vice president of admissions and financial aid at Hesston. “By making an effort to learn about what today’s students are looking for in terms of programs as well as what employers want and exploring how those programs fit into Hesston’s culture and environment, we’ve been able to make positive changes to our curriculum and extracurricular offerings that have resulted in significant growth.”

Of total enrollment at Hesston, 207 students are new and 403 students – 91 percent – are enrolled at a full-time status.  Domestic students represent 29 states in 2017, including 49 percent from Kansas and 38 percent from out of state.

On the international front, Hesston continues to build on its global community as 56 students – 13 percent as compared to 10 percent a year ago – are international students representing 17 countries.  At Bethel, there are two new students from Germany, from the Bergische Universität in Wuppertal, as part of the exchange program that has been in place since 1951.