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Bethel looks at ways to improve enrollment after 2016 numbers dip

September 11th, 2017

NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Bethel College saw a dip in enrollment for 2016, but the news wasn’t all bad.

Though first-time freshman numbers were smaller than anticipated, the GPA and ACT scores of the Class of 2020 were slightly higher than those of previous years.

“We didn’t reach the number we had set as a goal,” said Andy Johnson, Bethel College vice president for admissions. “We’re not happy about that, but we’re evaluating our methods – looking for ways to do a better job of making sure students know Bethel is a great place to get an education.”

Bethel President Perry White pointed to the reality that higher education faces nationwide – that “paying for college is increasingly difficult.” Finances are one reason for a decline in college-student numbers across the board.

A new initiative at Bethel that comes with the hiring this fall of a staff person whose position is dedicated to student career services will be a focus on finding employment for students beyond campus, in the local area, while they are in school.

Bethel’s overall enrollment went from 525 at this time last year to 460, a decrease of 12.3 percent.

The Class of 2020 includes six high-school valedictorians, with 12 percent of freshmen coming from the top 10 percent of their graduating class and 37 percent from the top quarter.

Other characteristics of Bethel’s fall 2016 student body: first-time freshmen come from 12 states (Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia and Washington) in addition to Kansas. First-time freshmen represent 35 different Kansas high schools, while 23 first-time freshmen are legacy students, meaning a parent, grandparent or sibling has previously attended Bethel.

First-time freshmen number 99 and transfers 61. Transfer students come from 11 states.

There are two students from Germany, from the Bergische Universität in Wuppertal, as part of the exchange program that has been in place since 1951.

Bethel College is the only private college in Kansas listed in the analysis of top colleges and universities, the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, all for 2016'17. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.