Continuing the upward enrollment trend established over the past seven years, McPherson College welcomed the class of 2025 to campus on August 17 for the start of fall semester classes. Freshmen and transfer students comprise the largest group of new students in school history at 350. As classes get underway, full-time degree-seeking enrollment is again over 800.
At 282 students, the class of 2025 is 35 percent larger than last year’s freshman class. The class comes to McPherson from 36 states and 12 countries. Twenty students decided to stay closer to home and took advantage of the college’s scholarship offered to students from neighboring communities. While freshmen are enrolled in all programs across campus, the top programs include business, auto restoration, behavior science, health science, and sports management. The health science program, introduced last year, pairs students with local health agencies for experiential education opportunities, and sports management is a restructured program starting this semester.
Due to the disruptions of last year, many students are looking forward to a more traditional college experience. McPherson College began the fall semester without social distancing restrictions in its classrooms but for the first two weeks is asking everyone to wear a mask while inside campus facilities. The college is among schools from across the country joining the White House COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge and agreeing to take action in encouraging students, faculty and staff members to be vaccinated.
“While many question whether or not a small college should exist, we are proving that students and families value the kind of experience they find at McPherson College,” President Michael Schneider said. “One of the ways we do that is by addressing what students and families are most concerned about and that is college debt.”
For the past three years, McPherson College has offered students an opportunity to reduce their student loans by participating in the Student Debt Project. Beginning the fourth year of the program, nearly 40% of McPherson College students have applied to the program. During fall orientation, every student learned about their own financial wellness by filling out personal budget sheets that explain their costs, financial aid, and how participating in the Student Debt Project could help them reduce the gap owed before loans.
Along with matching funds and a pay-as-you-go option, the program also matches students with mentors to answer financial questions. This year, more than 40 alumni and friends of the college, spanning from Florida to California, serve as mentors to small groups of students in the program.
“It is important to help our students understand their financial obligations and see that there are options other than taking out loans to pay for college,” Christi Hopkins, vice president for admissions, said. “Many students are already planning to work at college, and this gives them an added incentive to pay as they go while reducing the amount they borrow.”