Eleven Evangelical colleges and universities reported record enrollment this fall.
According to Christianity Today, Asbury University’s enrollment hiked 20 percent. East Texas Baptist University jumped to more than 1,800, the highest enrollment in the school’s history.
Meanwhile, Abilene Christian University boasted some 1,000 incoming freshmen, and Cedarville University had 374 students, adding to its total size of 1,017 students. Grace College added 465 new undergraduates, and Taylor University added 606 students.
Concordia University, St. Paul, added 228 students, and Lipscomb University added 700 first-year students.
Other colleges that also increased enrollment included Dordt University (1,911 more students), Samford University (11 percent more students), and Ouachita Baptist University (14 percent more undergraduates).
“It’s hard to be an 18-year-old student right now,” said Jennifer McChord, Asbury’s enrollment and marketing vice president. “When they see a place where they can have these meaningful, authentic connections where they are seen and known, it stands out. Because that’s what they’re craving.”
McChord said the school specifically targeted 16 and 17-year-old students who said they were interested in growing their faith.
“A lot of ads. A lot of videos. A lot of value content,” McChord said. “We use the digital platforms to drive a student to engage with a counselor and drive them to visit, where they can see.”
Mark Pohl, Grace College’s vice president of enrollment management, said less than a third of Christian high school graduates go to Christian colleges. He told Grace that he saw that as an opportunity to bring in those students and help them continue their faith journey.
“We encourage students to talk to their families about the continued discipleship process and the value of Christ-centered education as they make their faith their own,” Flamm told CT. “We’re a discipleship institution. Part of the application process has students indicate a relationship with Jesus. And we also emphasize you can get a good job with a Grace education.”
Meanwhile, other Christian schools and colleges have added more career options and degrees to draw in more students, such as cybersecurity, digital marketing, and criminal justice.
“We feel like America today needs Christian education more than ever before in history,” said Bethany’s interim president, Jamie Caridi. “But if we’re honest, at some point, the marketplace lost sight of the value of Christian education. The marketplace has shifted, so we need to offer academic programs that are relevant to the marketplace but are a good mission fit for us, too.”
The increasing numbers in Christian higher education may be because of the pandemic and a growing need for young adults to find small communities to connect with.
“As horrible as the pandemic was, it probably increased interest in Christian higher education,” said Beck Taylor, president of Samford University. “Students who did not enjoy online education are looking for places to invest in the community. … We can really live into the relational aspects of university education and do it with credibility.”
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Sky Nesher
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.