What a whirlwind these first few weeks have been! Upperclassmen have been getting back into their school routines, and the first-year students are establishing their presence on campus. Many upperclassmen have taken the reins to introduce the first-year students to Northwestern, but has anyone else noticed how many new faces there are? This year, there are 321 new students on campus, making for the largest incoming class in the past six years. This shows a consistent trend of growth in the incoming classes over the past four years. Rising enrollment rates have been attributed to improvements in marketing, admissions and various other departments.
NWs expanding online presence and recruitment strategies are contributing factors to getting more people in the door to see this community. The marketing department works to target students of certain demographics. Thanks to these efforts, NW is becoming known to people who may have never heard of it before. Tamara Fynaardt, vice president of marketing and enrollment, explains that while her department seeks to bring visitors to campus, it is what prospective students and their families observe on their visits that makes them want to enroll. “Although enrollment and marketing are the ‘front lines’ for recruiting each new class, attracting and enrolling students is a campus-wide effort. My team and I are so grateful for the students, professors, coaches and staff members who help us recruit students, both directly and indirectly,” Fynaardt said.
A total of 1,014 prospective students visited campus last school year, and results from surveys show that NWC’s Christian commitment, academic rigor, and community #StandOut to visitors. The NW community is witnessed during campus visits, and the funny thing is that it is not a façade. Marlon Haverdink, dean of residence life, explains that student reports indicate community is a reality found in residence halls. “Last year 96% of our students reported that they were very satisfied or satisfied with their residence life experience. We talk about being a tight-knit community at NWC, and I think our emphasis on the student experience in the halls really contributes to that sense of community,” Haverdink said.
It is a privilege and a gift to welcome more students to NW, but such an influx of new students has an inevitable impact on NW’s culture and facilities. Over 55% of the first-year students live in Coly and Fern, and some people have complained about a lack of parking spaces. Athletic facilities are also facing new challenges with 70% of the incoming class being athletes. NW’s current layout will have a difficult time sustaining these growing numbers without some additions, but NW is constantly looking for ways to improve its current facilities, so these improvements will come with time. Planned projects include a new women’s dorm and expansion of the Bultman Center. In the coming years, NW will continue to create spaces for new faces in its community.