Enrollment Growth Part of Larger Trend

Post a Comment » Written on March 29th, 2006     
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CHICAGO, IL (March 29, 2006) – The last several years have seen dramatic growth at evangelical liberal arts institutions, according to national reports, and North Park University is no exception.

Twenty years ago, most evangelical schools were struggling to survive, but record enrollments in 2005 are part of a dramatic turnaround, administrators say. Last year, applications jumped between 8 percent and 10 percent at the 238 colleges that belong to the North American Association of Christian Admissions Professionals, says Executive Director Chant Thompson.

Undergraduate enrollment at North Park University has grown 110 percent since 1989, including a 47 percent surge in the last 10 years, says Mark Olson, dean of enrollment and director of church relations. This year, the school had an enrollment of around 1,600 compared with 1,000 students 12 years ago. The number of undergraduates enrolling at the school grew by roughly 100 last year.

In addition to academics, students reflect a stronger desire to grow spiritually, Olson notes. Helena Swanson-Nystrom, who attends North Park Covenant Church, has applied to North Park as well as Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. She recently told the Religion News Service that she will consider a school’s spiritual environment in making her decision. “It becomes harder to be a practicing Christian if there is no Christian community,” she explained.

“The characteristics of a Covenant education resonate with students who want an education rooted in the Christian tradition and engaged in the world,” Olson says. “We notice that the unique opportunities North Park affords to put Christian faith into action through ministries of compassion, mercy and justice, are very attractive to students today.”

The increased number of applications has led to more competition to get into the schools, which also has been the case at North Park. “Happily, last year saw a significant growth in the number of new students and in the quality of those students,” Olson says.

Olson adds the competition has not decreased the school’s commitment to reach students who have not had the same academic advantages as others. “We want to continue to improve the profile of the student body while giving select students who have not had strong high school preparation, but who demonstrate promise, an opportunity to succeed at the college level.”

Copyright © 2011 The Evangelical Covenant Church.

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