The Christian Broadcasting Network reported growth in student bodies at many Christian colleges and universities this fall, naming record-high enrollments at several U.S. institutions, including the Christian Reformed-affiliated Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa. With eleven schools in all on the list, Christianity Today called the increases “a record for breaking records, as far as anyone in Christian higher education remembers.”
Dordt announced its enrollment success on Sept. 13. “This is the largest degree-seeking full-time undergraduate enrollment in Dordt’s history with 1,526 students representing 43 states and 33 countries,” said Bethany Van Voorst, the school’s marketing project manager. “The incoming class includes a record 498 undergraduate students.”
Dordt’s president, Erik Hoekstra, said the growth, which represents “more than 15 percent over the last decade while higher education overall has contracted by nearly 15 percent” is “a tribute to God’s faithfulness to Dordt through our faculty, staff, and supporting constituency who share in this vision of Christ-centered higher education.”
Other Christian Reformed-connected schools in the U.S. and Canada are also celebrating achievements in expanding their campuses and increasing enrollment.
The King’s and Redeemer
The King’s new student enrolment is up nearly 12% over last year, something the school is “very excited about and thankful for,” said Nikolas Vander Kooy, director of marketing.
Redeemer experienced an all-time high enrollment in 2022. Shannon McBride, the school’s communication manager, said 2023 “marks another strong enrollment year for Redeemer,” with a total enrollment at 1,052, about 30 students off last year’s high of 1,089. McBride said “97% of incoming students are full time, up significantly from last year when 80% of incoming students were full time.”
Trinity Christian College, a small Reformed school in Palos Heights, Ill., recently “drastically reduced cost of tuition,” which Doug Van Wyngarden, director of marketing, media, and technology support, said is “an effort to help make Christian higher education more accessible to all that seek it.” He said this semester Trinity saw a 25% increase in first-time, first-year students and a 63% increase for incoming transfer students.
Kuyper College, former missionary training school and now accredited work college in Grand Rapids, Mich., welcomed a 2023 first-year class of 65 students. In a post noting the start of the school year, the college acknowledged the incoming students come from five countries and seven states. “There is a definite feeling that enrollment is on an upward trajectory and that the fall 2023 class is indicative of a trend that will continue to bring in larger classes to Kuyper,” Director of Admission Kris Haymon said.
Calvin University in Grand Rapids celebrated a high representation of international and out-of-state students this fall. “Students beginning their time at Calvin this fall hail from 36 countries and 39 U.S. states. In total, the current student body at Calvin represents 55 countries and 48 U.S. states,” an August enrollment release said.
A focus for the school in recent years has been extending what Calvin calls its global campus, “reaching new learning communities with Calvin’s mission.” The 2023 incoming class “includes students at the Handlon Campus through the Calvin Prison Initiative program, transfer students and online learners, students in the university’s Life and Career Studies program, and a growing graduate student and certificate-seeking population,” the school said in the August release.
“Over the past few years, we’ve surveyed the market for new learners and have introduced several new graduate-level and certificate programs that are both in-demand and come out of our mission,” said Kevin den Dulk, associate provost. These changes are “allowing more learners of all ages and from all over the world to experience a formative education that is rooted in a compelling mission,” he said.
While these schools with ties to the Christian Reformed Church individually celebrate gains this year, there are also instances of collaboration encouraging each others’ success. This past May Calvin University shared the hosting of the annual Kuyper Conference and Prize with Redeemer University, intending to include other institutions from the neo-Calvinist, Reformed tradition every other year.
And Dordt University and Redeemer recently announced a partnership between Redeemer’s applied social sciences program and Dordt’s Master of Social Work, fast-tracking Redeemer social science graduates towards the postgraduate program at Dordt.