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Grinnell welcomes large first-year class

By Leah Lucas

The familiar refrain “Welcome to Grinnell!” has been sounded a few more times this semester than in recent years, as a class of 459 students joined the student body this fall. By comparison, the class of 2013, the smallest of the four current classes, has only 331 students.

But the size of the new first-year class “was right on target” according to Doug Badger, Director of Admissions.

“In order to determine the number of students that will be admitted each year, an ad-hoc committee analyzes the many dimensions of enrollment planning: housing space, classroom space, projected graduates, projected off campus study numbers, projected leaves and withdrawals, as well as revenue and budget forecasts,” Badger said. Their recommendation is then subject to approval by President Raynard Kington.

“We are always concerned with overtaxing the various resources on campus – residential life, the academic program, and others, but we also need to ensure that we are maximizing the use of those resources to the benefit of the college and its students,” Badger said.

460 first year students was the goal, and it was just about achieved, with 445 first years and 14 transfers. The next question is whether the College is able to accommodate this class size.

“One of the challenges that we faced this year was that we were left with a weird room collection after room draw in the spring when an abnormally large number of singles were left available,” said Andrea Conner, Director of Residence Life and Orientation. “It was right down to the wire that we were trying to fit all of the first-years into doubles by finding rising second-years that were willing to move into singles.”

However, after a busy summer of moving the pieces on the residence life game board, Conner said, “We were left with only two overcrowded triples, a large double converted into a triple with a bed lofted.”

That is actually a significant improvement from the nine overcrowded triples of last year.

Now that the first-years all have a place to sleep, they have a chance to show off their academic prowess.

“It is clear to us that this entering class has a very strong testing profile – perhaps the strongest of any class to ever enter Grinnell, with the mid 50 percent range for the SAT being 1300-1460 and the ACT, 29-33,” Badger said. “On paper, they are among the most highly qualified students to ever enroll at the college, and in person, they are a delightful group of people with much to contribute to the life of Grinnell.”

First-years came to Grinnell for a range of reasons.

Sanjay Sudhir ’16, from Cedar Rapids, cited academics as a large pull factor for him. “I really like the math and economics programs,” he said.

Justin Markovitz ’16, from Phoenix, came for the green. “I grew up my whole life in the desert, so I really liked the environment, really liked the rain,” he said.

Madeline Warnick ’16 said she was convinced to choose Grinnell because of its welcoming student body. “Socially it is a really great atmosphere,” Warnick said. “The non-judgmental atmosphere of everyone is a lot different than it was at my high school, so I really like that.”

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  • J

    Jason MurraySep 13, 2012 at 8:50 am

    As the parent of a graduated a few years ago student who continues to gush over her Grinnell experience I too am pleased to see that the school says things are looking up. I am starting to wonder if there is something going on that is different. When my daughter started the place was 11th on the USN rankings and in the last couple of years it has dropped again and again. Now it is below 20. I realize the rankings are not perfect, but most of the other top 25 schools seem to stay steady while Grinnell seems to be the only place moving and it is moving down. I worry how this will impact the long-term value of my daughter’s degree.

  • A

    Amy MIllerSep 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    As the parent of a first year, I though perhaps some “smoke was being blown” when told during NSO that the quality of the incoming class was superior to years past. Now that it’s in print, it must be true. I’d like to think that the important part of this is the second half of the statement made by Badger saying “they are a delightful group of people with much to contribute to the life of Grinnell” and that they continue the proud tradition of previous classes by contributing to the world after they’ve left the friendly confines of the College.

    I’m so grateful my daughter has found a place that feels so right to her. This weekend’s Facebook status read “I love this school. That’s all.”

    Way to go in choosing each of the students in the class of 2016.