A series of new initiatives are paying dividends for Heidelberg University, which enjoyed increased enrollment with the beginning of the 2012-13 academic year. Additionally, the university is celebrating its 25th consecutive year ranked among the top colleges and universities in U.S. News & World Report’s annual national survey.
Heidelberg enrolled about 70 more freshmen than a year ago and its transfer student population also increased, ranking the incoming class as the fifth largest in four decades, Lindsay Sooy, vice president of enrollment management. As of Sept. 13, freshman enrollment stands at 344. The university’s overall enrollment stands at about 1,400, including undergraduates, graduate students, high school Options students and other programs.
“Our increased enrollment and ongoing high ranking in U.S. News demonstrate that families are finding that higher education is indeed a good investment,” Sooy said. “Colleges and universities influence the lives of individuals in so many positive ways. At Heidelberg, we continue to prepare students to think critically, communicate effectively and become engaged in an increasingly globally world as well as their communities.
“Employers seek these skills not only from new graduates but also from veteran employees who are well-established in the workplace,” Sooy said.
Over the past three years, Heidelberg has opened five new or renovated facilities, including the most recent Saurwein Health & Wellness Center, which began operations in late August. Additionally, the university proactively responded to student interest and marketplace demand by creating two new majors this year in health sciences and self-designed studies and enhancing its freshman advising and academic and career support services.
While Sooy is excited about the boost in enrollment, she is equally pleased with the academic quality and preparation of the incoming class. “Overall, the average GPA and test scores among the freshman class are as high as they have been in 10 years,” she said. “This bodes well for student retention and graduation, which is our ultimate objective for each of our students.”
Other interesting demographics of the incoming class:
- Fourteen percent are minorities
- Sixteen percent are from out of state
- Twenty percent are Heidelberg scholars
- Twenty-five percent are first-generation college students.
The university’s improved numbers are reflected again in its appearance in the top tier in the annual U.S. News rankings; Heidelberg increased eight spots from the previous year. The U.S. News 2012 America’s Best Colleges report, released Sept. 12, uses a set of criteria, including peer assessment, retention and graduation rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, alumni giving and financial resources, in ranking colleges and universities. The survey provides a thorough examination of how more than 1,400 accredited four-year schools compare on a set of 16 indicators related to academic excellence.
President Robert H. Huntington said the university’s continued high marks underscore its commitment – at both the individual and institutional level – to become better, bigger, stronger and smarter.
“Our central purpose remains to help students prepare for great lives in the Heidelberg tradition and in advancement of the liberal arts and professional education,” Huntington said. “We are very proud of our heritage and our ongoing commitment to strengthen our academic value.”
The liberal arts learning that makes Heidelberg distinctive, Huntington added, guides student development in terms of critical thinking, creativity, communication skills, problem solving, integrated synthesis and learning to learn.
“Our resolve is stronger than ever to provide an excellent academic and a personally enriching experience for each of our students,” he said. “This commitment motivates us daily.”
The capital, academic and student support initiatives Heidelberg has completed over three years further strengthen its position as a destination point for prospective students and elevate Heidelberg’s standing among its peers. “The U.S. News rankings bear this out,” Huntington said.
Many families use the U.S. News survey as a tool in their college search process as they consider such criteria as cost, financial aid, curriculum, feel of campus life and geographic location. The nearly 450 colleges and universities in the “Regional Universities” category are ranked within four geographic regions and then divided into tiers.