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Enrollment rises despite pandemic

September 17th, 2020

Ad Building and threshing stone

Bethel’s incoming student numbers stayed up and total enrollment increased, a heartening trend following the unexpected end to the 2019-20 school year.

After the 20th day of classes, when semester numbers become official, there are 151 first-time freshmen (compared to last year’s 155), the second-largest class in the past 32 years, along with 30 transfer students.

Total enrollment was 469, compared to 456 in fall 2019, an increase of 2.8%.

“After the turbulent last six months, this incoming class reaffirms the value of a Bethel education,” said Eric Preheim, interim director for admissions.

The Class of 2024 includes eight high-school valedictorians, with 9 percent of freshmen coming from the top 10 percent of their graduating class and 29 percent from the top quarter.

Other characteristics of Bethel’s fall 2020 student body: first-time freshmen come from 14 states (California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming) in addition to Kansas, with 10 new international students, from Argentina, Chile, Czech Republic, Mexico, Spain and the United Kingdom.

First-time freshmen represent 45 different Kansas high schools, while 25 first-time freshmen are legacy students, meaning a parent, grandparent or sibling has previously attended Bethel.

“We’re excited to watch them grow as Threshers,” Preheim said. “As a college, these consecutive and historic first-year numbers mean a strong foundation for enrollment is building.”

Bethel is a four-year liberal arts college founded in 1887 and is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Known for academic excellence, Bethel ranks at #14 in the Washington Monthly list of “Best Bachelor’s Colleges” and #26 in U.S. News & World Report, Best Regional Colleges Midwest, and earned its third-straight NAIA Champions of Character Five-Star Gold Award, based on student service and academic achievement, all for 2020-21; is’s highest ranked Kansas small college with the highest earning graduates; has the #10 RN-to-BSN program in Kansas according to; and is #57 among 829 U.S. colleges and universities named by as “Best for Financial Aid,” as well as #23 “Safest College Towns in the U.S.,” ranked by for 2020-21. For more information, see


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.