Education: Enrollment Booming at Christian Colleges
February 5, 1996
Many Christian college administrators have been happily scrambling for more space in the 1995-96 school year because of record-breaking enrollments.
A recent survey conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU), an association of accredited private four-year Christian colleges and universities, shows 53 percent of its 90 member schools reporting record head counts last fall. New first-year student enrollment records were set by 38 percent of the reporting colleges.
The larger pool of college-age students, wariness of secular schools, more innovative programs, and marketing savvy all have played a role in the boom. In the 64 CCCU schools responding to surveys, 1995-96 enrollment totaled 94,114, a 5 percent rise from the 89,693 at those colleges a year earlier.
"We're converting what were closets into offices for faculty," says James W. Didier, president of Judson College in Elgin, Illinois. In the past two years, the American Baptist institution has experienced a 50 percent increase in enrollment, from 602 to 900 students. The college recently purchased a former hotel for $1.3 million that will be converted for student housing and classroom use.
Other Christian colleges are welcoming the formidable increase in enrollment as they refill rooms unused since the drought of new students in the early 1980s. Even with this year's 50 percent increase in its new first-year students and 13 percent increase in overall enrollment, Nashville's Trevecca Nazarene College is still smaller than it was in 1983.
While the increases in enrollment are not unique to Christian colleges--which account for only 1 percent of enrollment in American institutions of higher education--the gains are greater ...