The 2021 incoming class at Grace College, Winona Lake, Ind., is one that will go down in school history. This fall, the institution welcomed an all-time high of 471 new students to its campus. Grace’s incoming class is also the most socioeconomically and ethnically diverse since the institution opened in 1937. The school’s overall enrollment totals 1,919 students this semester.
“Our record-breaking new student enrollment goes against all the foreboding enrollment predictions that came because of the pandemic,” said Dr. Bill Katip, president of Grace College. “Despite the wide array of challenges students have faced in the past year, it’s evident that there is still a demand for affordable, Christ-centered education. Meeting that need will remain a strategic pillar and driving force at Grace College,” he said.
100 percent of students in the incoming class received financial aid, and more than 25 percent of them are attending Grace tuition-free through federal, state and institutional grants.
“A key to our success comes from excellent financial aid packages,” said Dr. Mark Pohl, associate vice president of enrollment management. “The shift to being test-optional has also increased our applicant pool significantly. In fact, we received a record number of applications this past admissions cycle,” he said.
In addition to its financial aid packages, Grace attributes its wave of growth to the expansion of many of its key academic programs.
The School of Behavioral Science grew by 12 percent after introducing 11 new concentrations that prepare students to meet some of the most urgent needs emerging in the field. These concentrations include addictions counseling, child and family counseling, law enforcement, sports psychology, industrial and organizational psychology, and child life psychology.
Grace’s School of Arts and Sciences also saw steady growth after expanding its degree offerings through partnerships. Students can now earn a graduate certificate in corporate communication strategy with Purdue University. In collaboration with John Patrick University, students can get a bachelor’s degree in medical imaging, a master’s of integrative and functional medicine, or a master’s in healthcare administration.
These graduate degrees are offered through Grace’s accelerated bachelor’s and master’s degree program, which allows students to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in four years. A record-breaking number of students enrolled in the accelerated program this year, which grew by 33 percent.
Many online and seminary programs are also hitting their stride. The college’s online degrees increased new student enrollment by 33 percent during the summer and fall. Deploy — Grace’s competency-based seminary program — continues to grow, along with the Doctor of Ministry degree. The online seminary master’s degrees have increased their enrollment by more than 40 percent.
Beyond academic programs, Grace acknowledges that many campus updates have played a role in welcoming and retaining their new class of students.
Most notably, students were welcomed by a state-of-the-art dining hall. The $5.5 million renovations to Alpha Dining include additional indoor and outdoor seating, updated appliances and new dining stations that provide allergen-free options for students with dietary restrictions. Also new to campus are outdoor lounge areas, pergolas and firepits. Students are also eagerly awaiting the finished construction of the Miller Sunset Pavilion and Ice Rink, just down the hill from campus.
“While there are so many exciting things transpiring in and around campus, nothing ranks higher than our priority to disciple our students to know and follow Christ,” said Katip. “This year, our campus theme is ‘Follow Me,’ a reminder of this mission. We pray that the 2021 incoming class would not just be remembered for its size, but for its undying devotion to following Jesus.”