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.”