Bethel bucks regional trends by realizing enrollment growth.
This fall, Bethel has the best enrollment numbers it’s seen since 2011. Overall enrollment went from 481 at this time last year to 525, representing an increase of 8 percent.
The first-time freshman number was 130, with 76 transfer students. Freshmen came from 14 states in addition to Kansas, transfers from 11. There are two new international students, from Canada and Jamaica, and two students from the Bergische Universität in Wuppertal, Germany, part of the exchange program that has been in place since 1951.
Other characteristics of the Class of 2019: 11 valedictorians; 22 percent from the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class; 42 percent from the top quarter; 37 different Kansas high schools represented; 29 first-time legacy students, meaning a parent, grandparent or sibling has previously attended Bethel.
The reasons students give for considering Bethel often point toward a performance area: athletics, music, forensics, etc.
However, reasons for coming—and staying—are varied. Here’s what just a few of our new students had to say. (Watch the full interviews)
“There are two things we can highlight. One is the growth in our nursing program. The other is a renewed commitment by students, Bethel employees and alumni to telling ‘the Bethel story’ and highlighting the value of the Bethel experience.”
—President Perry D. White
Why Choose Bethel College
Freshman, Wichita; Bishop Carroll High School
From that first visit, you can get a sense of what your next four years are going to be like on that campus. Walking around on campus, people saying “Hi” and generally being interested in you—it makes a big difference.
Even though I’m not too far from home, it was a challenge moving away, a big change of pace. But after I got through the first week or two of classes, I’m really liking it here.
The teachers are more into you. They talk to you, they open their offices to you, they let you call them by their first names. They’re real [people] with you, which is something you wouldn’t get at a bigger state school.
Senior, McPherson; transfer from Kansas Wesleyan University
Bethel is an academic school, and people come here for that. To be a Thresher means to succeed academically.
It’s a great school to transfer into. Everyone is welcoming on the campus.
Freshman, Salina; Salina Central High School
I enjoy the small campus. Everyone is really nice compared to the state schools [where] no one acknowledges your existence. Everybody says “Hi” here. The instructors actually know your name. That’s one of the greatest things here. You’re not just a number or a statistic—you’re a person.
The class sizes are so nice. You actually get help from your professors. It’s easier for the teacher to engage with the students, to have more one-on-one time with them. You don’t have to be apprehensive [about] talking with professors. They’re really nice, and they understand that you’re struggling to adapt to college after so many years of living [at home].
Freshman, Hesston; Hesston High School
[I came to Bethel because] a liberal arts education was important to me, not just focusing on a major, and also because the values of faith and servanthood aligned with mine.
I was able to get involved in music without being a music major. Being a part of something bigger than I am is really good. The level of talent here is so high that I found myself pushing to make myself better, to be up to that level.
One reason I came here is that [religion] is a lot more available here. I feel like the college years are formative in a lot of different ways and faith is one of those. It’s so naturally integrated into everything at Bethel.
Junior, Plano, Texas; transfer from Hesston College
[At my first college, a large state school] the classes would be like 250 and sometimes the teacher wouldn’t even show up, the TA would teach the class. Here, you can have a relationship with your teacher—they want you to be a great student.
Coming to Bethel, my expectation was to grow and mature as an overall person, in all areas of my life. So far I have been—physically, with basketball; academically; emotionally, with my friends; and, most important to me, spiritually.
Usually when people transfer in, they’re nervous because cliques are already established. When you come to Bethel, you don’t have to worry about that. People don’t care who you are or where you came from, they’re willing to accept you.