Bethel College (visited 11/21/19)
Bethel is a small welcoming school on a pretty campus (including several fountains), lots of traditions (a couple involving said fountains), solid academics, and a strong faith-based community; “you have to be willing to engage with the religion,” said the tour guide. Students must earn 3 chapel credits per week in any combination of services (chapel meets at 10am on MWF), coffee with a philosophy professor, small group bible study in the dorms, etc. They’ve switched chapel credits this year, the tour guide thinks it’s a good change: “There’s more choice and it shakes things up a bit.”
Our tour guide wanted a school that wasn’t just Christian in name. Bethel is intentionally Christian in everything they do, including their Statement of Faith and expectations for the community. People here want to grow in their faith. They choose to participate not just in established activities such as Chapel, but seek ways to go beyond that. For example, our tour guide described “Scripture 66” which takes places over a weekend every fall semester. Students read the entire bible out loud between chapel on Friday and chapel on Monday, usually in the small chapel.
Students tend more towards the conservative religious side. If that’s what they grew up with, they’ll be comfortable here. Students have a lot of forums to speak up. The tour guide feels that they do a good job of being inclusive of all races, but “We’re predominantly white. We’re in Indiana. That’s going to happen.” They’ve create clubs for spaces for people and to have a forum to talk to admin. “The effort is there.”
This still feels very much like a small regional school. Only about 800 of the 1400 live on campus (and, living up to the Christian school norms, it’s a dry campus and dorms have specific coed visitation hours). Retention is ok, hovering around 72% but there’s definitely room for improvement, which they realize. They’re starting a new First-Year Experience to help students create connections, and they’ve hired a new grad to revamp it.
They have some fun traditions: Pond Run is held on the first day of freshman year. Helm Run is held on the day of the first snowfall: guys run in their underwear (and no shoes) from the dorm to the Helm and back. Babe and Dude weeks (Babe Week is usually first) are also big deals – they do slip-n-slide in the dorms, panels, FroYo runs, initiation, etc. They also have good activities such as an Escape Room campus.
Since they’re in NAIA rather than NCAA, they can provide athletic scholarships. They just brought in a new athletic director so games tend to be drawing in more fans now.
Bethel is flexible with AP and dual enrollment. They have some interesting options for majors an minors such as:
- Human Bioenergetics emphasis in their Biokinetics program.
- A robust array of religiously focused programs such as Reconciliation Studies, Biblical languages minor, and Missional Ministries.
- Nursing is Direct Admit. Half of the seats are saved for students who apply to come in after taking A&P.