Sep. 15—MANKATO — Bethany Lutheran College's fall enrollment is at an all-time high, with 800 students taking classes.
"It's a real blessing. I think Bethany is experiencing an upswing. We've had a lot of good success in recent years," said President Gene Pfeifer.
He said that beyond building projects in recent years, the college has launched a number of initiatives to help current students and attract new ones.
"Bethany has always been about the personal mentorship between faculty and students, and that's been at the heart of any strategies we've had."
Pfeifer said lower birth rates mean there's an "enrollment cliff" coming. "So it's going to be a bigger challenge for all the colleges to compete for a shrinking pool of students."
Enrollment this year topped last fall's enrollment of 778 students, which was also a record.
There are 660 undergraduate students and 15 graduate students, along with high school students taking classes through Minnesota's Post-Secondary Enrollment Option or through an online partnership with schools locally and nationally.
There are 228 first-year students, also a record.
The enrollment equals 710 full-time-equivalent students.
The number of students living on campus — 422 — is also an all-time high.
Pfeifer said the enrollment numbers move the college closer to realizing its enrollment objectives for coming years.
Bethany, a Christian liberal arts college, was founded in 1927. It offers 28 undergraduate programs and established its first master's degree program this year.