Cornell College welcomes largest new class in nearly two decades

MOUNT VERNON, Iowa – It’s a record-setting year as Cornell College welcomes its largest group of new students in 18 years with 404 students joining the campus community. 

This year’s enrollment marks nearly a 30% increase over 2020’s class of 315. Prior to this year, 2003 was the last time Cornell saw new student enrollment grow to more than 400 when 410 first-year and transfer students moved to campus. 

“At a time when there’s so much instability with college enrollment, we are absolutely thrilled to see such a large body of students joining us here at Cornell,” said Director of Admission Drew Shradel. “Cornell has a lot to offer with our One Course At A Time calendar and Ingenuity curriculum. These students recognized the benefits of our flexible and immersive style of learning, not only during a pandemic but in regular times.”

This year’s new students come from 36 states and 12 countries (including the U.S.). Iowans represent the largest percentage of new students with 110 first-year students and 11 transfer students from Iowa, which is a 50% increase over last year.

Along with excitement about the block plan, Cornell initiated new programming that helped with enrollment. The college revamped the Cornell College Iowa Promise Scholarship to make a private college education more accessible and affordable to Iowans. 

The college also partnered with Posse, an organization that strives to support the world’s next multicultural generation of leaders and supports high school students from across the country who are often missed in the traditional college selection process. 

“When we look at the quality of students coming in, this is a big year,” said Vice President of Enrollment Management Wendy Beckemeyer. “It would be easy for someone to say we just reduced our quality measurements. But we didn’t. This class has a high-performing GPA, excellent test scores, increased diversity, and we’ve extended our geographic reach. This class will contribute greatly to our already outstanding student body.”

Cornell leaders are excited for the enrollment growth to carry forward with the newly announced Cornell College Freeway Scholarship for students in five Midwestern states. 

Cornell College has a total enrollment of 1,055 for the 2021-22 academic year.

About Cornell College:

Cornell College is a liberal arts college in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Cornellians have been living, learning, and teaching on the block plan, One Course At A Time, since 1978. Each 18-day course can take students and professors off-campus and even out of the country due to the block’s flexibility, and students fully immerse themselves in their topic of study, taking field trips, diving into research, creating an art exhibit, or exploring issues in the local community. With students from 47 states and 12 foreign countries, as well as renowned faculty, speakers, and entertainers, Cornell offers the world from its campus.