Goshen College this fall welcomed the largest incoming class since 2009, with a total of 215 full-time first-year students and 55 full-time transfer students.

That represents a 16 percent from the incoming class last year, according to Jodi Beyeler, director of communications at Goshen College.

The total enrollment at Goshen College, or overall headcount, is 950, which is up 9 percent  from last year. That figure including adult, graduate and traditional students, according to Beyeler said.

Allie Gordy, a first-year student from Elkhart who is studying nursing is excited to “meet new people, and [experience] the dorm life.”

The number of students taking room and board at the college is up 22 from last year. The Yoder and Kratz residential halls are filled to the max with first- and second- year students, according to Adela Hufford, dean of admissions. Approximately 75 percent of the incoming students are living on campus and 25 percent off-campus.

The class of first-year undergraduate students is diverse coming from 24 different states in the U.S., and eight foreign countries. More than half of the students, approximately 58 percent, are from Indiana.

Nearly one third, or 32 percent, are Latino, Beyeler said. Overall 23 percent of Goshen College students are Latino, which leaves the college 2 percent away from qualifying to be named a Hispanic Serving Institution.

Other designations include: African-American, 6 percent; Asian, 2 percent;  American Indian/Alaskan Native, 1 percent;  Pacific Islander/Hawaiian, .5 percent.

“Campus feels better… a lot of energy on campus,” Beyeler said.

In describing the incoming class as a whole, Kellam Venosky, who works in admissions operations and office assistance, used the term “eager” to describe the incoming class, as in  ready to learn, experience new things, and meet new people.

Jose Montañez, a first-year student studying math education, described Goshen as a “pretty cool place” because while it’s a small college there is “actually a lot to do right now.”

Over the years the Goshen College admissions department has been strategically seeking the best ways to attract students and increase enrollment at Goshen College.

But for five consecutive years, 2010 to 2014, the college suffered from declining enrollment as a result of various factors, including turnover and staff. In 2014 the admissions team sought the help of Ruffalo Noel Levitz, an educational consulting agency.

They have been working with Ruffalo Noel Levitz since the fall of 2014 in areas of  recruitment, financial aid and most recently strategic enrollment planning. For the past three years admissions worked on becoming more effective in the areas of admissions, financial aid, and communications and marketing, and identifying best practices.

Being a small liberal arts college means being a part of a volatile market. Saint Joseph College, a Catholic liberal arts college in Rensselaer, permanently closed its doors to undergraduate students earlier this year.

The admissions team at Goshen College was determined to “show that growth is achievable,” said Hufford. “Rigorous academics, affordability, and outcomes are three words highlighting what a Goshen College education can do for you.”

The admissions department at Goshen College demonstrated a striking return on its investment in best practices.

Goshen College is one of three institutions that received a national Marketing-Recruitment Excellence Award from Ruffalo Noel Levitz  at their national conference in Denver in July.

The college has seen a 34 percent increase in enrollment since 2014, a 38 percent increase in net tuition revenue over two years and a major boost in diversity.

Hufford along with Ken Newbold, Linda VandenBosch, Jacob GunderKline and Caleb Longenecker traveled to Colorado to receive the award on behalf of Goshen College.

Hufford and others are already looking ahead. Explore Goshen Days are under way with the second one scheduled for Friday, Sept. 29, with specific tracks focusing on education, American sign language, environmental and marine science, and sustainability.