Bethel College enrollment inching upwards

Chad Frey
The Kansan

Starting the second consecutive school year in pandemic mode, Bethel College is looking at the second-highest entering freshman class in recent history.

In the face of COVID-19, Bethel College continues to grow first-year enrollment at the school. This year looking at the second-highest entering freshman class in recent history.

“Recruiters had to battle the uncertainty of the pandemic and the restrictions that followed," said Eric Preheim, director of admissions. "The enrollment management team, the coaching staffs and the faculty who recruit – notable efforts from music, nursing and social work – all had to make creative adjustments to reach students and connect with them on the value of a Bethel College education.”

As of Aug. 18, the Class of 2025 stood at 158, one lower than fall 2020 and one higher than fall 2019.

Together, these numbers are the highest seen since 1988.

“This class provides yet another year of solid foundation for building enrollment at Bethel College," Preheim said. “In combination with increased retention, Bethel continues to grow. ... In the long term, many of the changes we’ve made in recruiting the class of fall 2021 will be made permanent. ... This class is the result of an entire campus’s work."

The enrollment bumps come on the heals of the college earning  a Top 10 ranking among colleges and universities in Kansas as announced by AcademicInfluence.com.

For 2021-22, AcademicInfluence.com placed Bethel at No. 9 among the 21 colleges and universities – public and private – in Kansas that meet its criteria (fully accredited; nonprofit; offers an array of bachelor’s degrees; graduation rate greater than 30 percent).

In more specialized categories, Bethel stands at No. 5 for Best Liberal Arts Colleges and Universities, No. 6 for Best Private Colleges and Universities and Best Christian Colleges and Universities, and No. 7 for Best Small Colleges and Universities (enrollment under 5,000).

AcademicInfluence.com is a group of academics and data scientists who, according to the website, seek to provide “an objective, non-gameable influence-based ranking for the people, schools and disciplinary programs that make up higher education.”

The group has developed, for that purpose, a ranking technology that employs machine learning to measure the impact of the work of “the world’s top academic influencers.”