Here We Grow Again – For the third consecutive year, SMC welcomes the largest freshman class in college history

Here We Grow Again – For the third consecutive year, SMC welcomes the largest freshman class in college history

By Lisa Mincey Ware

This article appeared originally in the Fall 2019 issue of Frontiers Magazine

As reports of declining college enrollments nationwide continue to dominate headlines, Spartanburg Methodist College is bucking the trend. For the third consecutive year, SMC’s freshman class is the largest since the College’s founding in 1911. The College also set a record for the largest total incoming class in its history and the largest total student body since 1990.

Drone view of largest incoming class 2019
SMC welcomed the largest freshman class in its history for its freshman student move-in day. 513 first-time college freshmen are taking classes at SMC this fall.

A LOOK AT THE NUMBERS:

  • 513 new freshmen started classes Wednesday, August 21 — the largest
    freshman class in the College’s history.
  • The new freshmen, plus readmitted students and transfer students, make up the largest incoming class in the College’s history (551).
  • 45 junior students began classes in the College’s new bachelor’s degree program. They’re the first juniors in the College’s history.
  • SMC’s total student body is 910, the largest since 1990.

In 2016, SMC’s enrollment had decreased to 736 from an average of 800. In 2016, President Scott Cochran announced that the College would increase enrollment to 1,000 students by 2020. Driven by increased marketing, a revamped admissions process, and the addition of a bachelor’s degree, enrollment has steadily risen each year. This fall’s student body number is a 24% increase over the 2016 total.

“We have an incredible group of faculty and staff who have worked hard to provide new programs and to accommodate a larger student body in a very short period of time,” said President Scott Cochran. “We’ve got over 170 additional students on campus since 2016, and we’re going to continue to grow.”

With enrollment totals clearing 900 again for the first time in 30 years, SMC is on track to meet the 2020 goal, said Ben Maxwell, Vice President for Enrollment. “It’s gratifying to see that students are increasingly drawn to what we’re offering at SMC, which is an affordable college education that they can now receive for all four years.”

Junior student Jimmy Painter of Inman, South Carolina, says he is glad to be back on campus to complete a bachelor’s degree. He is studying English and history, two of the four concentrations offered in SMC’s Bachelor of Arts degree. “I transferred to another school in the spring, but I felt like a number there,” he said. “At SMC, my professors know me and make sure I’m on track and OK. They care about me as a person.”

Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Teresa Ferguson says that 557 students, or 61% of the total student body, live in one of the College’s seven residence halls. “We’ve had a few moments when we worried demand would exceed the supply, but we have been able to accommodate everyone again this year,” she said. “We feel confident we can continue to meet the need for student housing even at the 1,000 student mark without building new housing, although we have contingency plans in place.”

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