HOLLAND — The Hope College campus was full of new students and families on Friday as new students moved into their residence halls.
While the annual moving day on the Friday before the semester begins is a tradition, this class is anything but. This year’s incoming freshman cohort is the largest in Hope’s history.
The numbers don’t become official until after the class drop-out deadline in mid-September, but the 947 currently enrolled in classes are well above the previous high of 904 in 2012. Last year, Hope hosted 848 students for the first time.
Overall enrollment is projected at over 3,200, above last year’s 3,133 but below fall 2014’s high of 3,433.
Kristin Diekevers, senior associate director of admissions at Hope, said “the writing was on the wall” for a big spring class. The large class was greeted with a big party, but also a lot of preparation.
“The conversations started even before (registration deadlines),” Diekevers said. “At Hope, when something like this happens, faculty and staff go into a ‘What’s next? Let’s make it happen. I love this attitude of the people of Hope.
Hope College has introduced several tuition initiatives in recent school years that can contribute to the high class of the college. Hope’s Anchored Tuition commitment guarantees students the same tuition rate for their entire stay at Hope, regardless of future increases.
The Hope Forward initiative, which began last fall and will welcome a cohort of 36 new students this fall. Hope Forward seeks to fully fund tuition for all students and then ask graduates to contribute to an endowment to support future students.
After:Hope College Announces New “Anchored Tuition” Initiative
After:Hope Forward: Hope College Launches Pilot for Fully Funded Tuition Model
SubscribeReceive unlimited access to your local news coverage
Diekevers said these programs and President Matthew Scogin’s leadership are attractive to prospective students.
“I think one of the main reasons for our success is the ambitious and bold vision and leadership of Chairman Scogin,” she said. “He is an inspiring leader. When you have someone like that at the helm, the community rallies behind them. Nothing seems impossible when he talks about the future of learning, the future of work and the future economic model of higher education.
Diekevers also credits Holland City with Hope’s recent enrollment successes.
“It’s a big achievement for Hope, but just as much for Holland,” she said. “Holland is a great place to be a student. Growth, there are opportunities for students to do internships and shadow jobs, there are churches they can join, there is a farmers market to wander around.
“Hope will continue to be an attractive place for students and professionals because of its community, and Holland is part of that community.”
While the record class is certainly cause for celebration at Hope, Diekevers said he doesn’t expect 1,000 new students each year. She said the college isn’t necessarily looking to dramatically increase total enrollment, but to keep numbers stable.
“Our conversations about global listing are about keeping it stable, keeping it strong,” she said. “Hope is so focused on providing the best undergraduate, Christian and liberal arts education and we know our sweet spot.”