We, the Class of 2019, thought we were the big shots. With over 450 students—25 percent of which were students of color or international—we left Wesley Hall splitting at its seams and left a mark in Albion’s archives as one of the largest and most diverse student bodies.
Then the Class of 2020 entered. Although numbers are unofficial until the census date next Friday, as of Aug. 23 the first-years stand 404 strong with 36 transfers at their side. Thirty-five percent identified themselves as students of color and 26.5 percent came from beyond Michigan’s borders, nationally and internationally.
Surprisingly, the class’s total enrollment fell 20 short of this year’s objective. “We had hoped to get about 425 freshmen. We were on track to do that,” said Steven Klein, VP of enrollment. “We just happened to lose a few more during the summer.”
However, the admissions center, which Klein oversees, is still well on their way to meeting their long-term goal. Two years ago, when President Ditzler first joined Albion, a five-year plan was created to bring student enrollment from its 1,235 students to 1,650. By the census date, total enrollment is expected to reach near 1,400 this year.
A second intrinsic part of that enrollment plan was to continue to expand Albion’s diversity. The Class of 2020 may very well be the college’s most diverse to date, ethnically, racially and geographically. Glance at Forbes’ or the Princeton Review’s statistics on Albion College, which are a few years behind, and see pie charts stuffed to the brim with a white population. One in three freshmen now are not.
There have been great strides geographically as well. “Historically, this college has been 90 percent Michigan, sometimes more,” Klein said. Now, over a quarter of freshmen have traveled here from out of state, including 16 from California alone and 10 from foreign countries, from Nigeria to Pakistan.
There is even a diverse array of talents and interests that embody the Class of 2020. In his matriculation speech, Klein spoke of first-years that had made appearances in movies, were certified scuba-divers and who worked with Holocaust survivors at a senior center.
It is of little surprise, then, that the Bonta Admissions Center is becoming as large and as diverse as the classes it enrolls. The six new hires this year include a Chicago regional representative who will stay in its metropolitan area and a full-time equestrian recruiter who will meet the newly renovated Held Equestrian Center’s recruiting efforts. There are even plans to promote a more hosting-friendly environment at Albion, a move Klein believes gives the best experience as to what the college has to offer.
Numbers and goals aside though, Klein sees this year’s freshmen class as, in every positive way, nothing new. With a bit of a grin he said, “They’re just like your class. They’re serious about their futures. They’re ready to take on challenges. They want to make a difference in the world.”
If the trends are true, the Class of 2020 will become the movers and shakers in the paths they choose to follow, just as those behind them and undoubtedly ahead.
Photo by Beau Brockett Jr.
08/26/16, 3:11 p.m. Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the estimated student enrollment for this year was near 1,450 instead of 1,400. We apologize for the misinformation.