The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

The Nation's Oldest Continuously Published Student Newspaper

The Simpsonian

Geer, signing off
Geer, signing off
by Caleb Geer, Ad Manager/Web Editor • April 27, 2024

I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do with my life when I showed up on campus in the middle of the pandemic almost four years ago. I knew...

Looking back at my time at Simpson
Looking back at my time at Simpson
by Kyle Werner, Managing Editor & Social Media Manager • April 27, 2024

It all started with soup. No, really, let me explain. I was so passionate about the soup in SubConnection as a first year that it caught the...

So long, farewell, I’ve got no more stories to tell
So long, farewell, I’ve got no more stories to tell
by Jenna Prather, Editor-in-chief • April 27, 2024

Unlike my fellow student media seniors who’ve written this before me, I came into Simpson knowing exactly what I wanted to do. I did independent...

Simpson enters an era committed to growth

Taryn Bertini
This year Simpson saw it’s biggest first-year class in five years.

Simpson College wasn’t always “Simpson College.” When it was founded in 1860, it was only a small brick building, “Old Bluebird,” built next to Old Chapel, now College Hall, focused on small and private seminary education. Flash forward a decade to 1870, it was dubbed the “Simpson Centenary College,” with its first graduating class consisting of six graduates. 

Simpson College became “Simpson College” twenty-five years after it was established in Old Bluebird, and what we now know as Simpson’s campus began to grow.

Simpson’s class sizes have grown alongside the expansion of the campus. From six graduates in 1870 to 382 first-year students in 2023, the largest freshman class in the past five years, Simpson has clearly grown a lot. 

According to a press release from the college on Aug 29., enrollment was up 11% from the previous academic year, pushing total enrollment past 1,100. 

Last year’s first year retention rate was 76%, which is on par with the average Simpson holds, as well as the national average according to the National Center for Education Statistics

There is a certain fluctuation in life, and college is no different. This shows through students transferring in and out of institutions, or even dropping out. 

Currently, there are 363 freshmen, 231 sophomores, 233 juniors and 303 seniors at Simpson, pushing total enrollment past 1,100.

Alongside the largest class since 2018, Simpson also welcomed a new president, Jay Byers, who started his tenure on Aug. 1 of this year. 

2023 is full of new beginnings for Simpson in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought the total number of enrolled students below 1,000 last year. It was a rough time for students to embark on a new journey in college, and it showed

“It [COVID-19] was a good chunk of their high school experience that was disrupted at a really important developmental time,” Vice President for Student Development and Planning Heidi Levine said. “They [previous classes] weren’t engaging from early in the fall semester. We heard faculty talking about entering students who weren’t getting work done, not meeting deadlines and just disengaged.”

Now, with the foreseeable end of the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollment is up, and the college experience is back in full swing. 

“As I’m talking to folks at different campuses, we’re all having the sense of, ‘Okay, we’re back. Students are back there doing the things again, like this feeling more like it did pre-COVID’,” Levine said.

There is still a promising outlook on what lies ahead for Simpson, Vice President of Enrollment Leigh Mlozdik said. “We’ve got a lot of momentum with this last class. Early indicators and early numbers look good for the upcoming year. It’s always a marathon when it comes to admissions.” 

The college teamed up with EAB, a consulting firm that focuses on institutional growth and is credited for Simpson’s recent success. 

“What we were able to do is, for one, broaden their outreach, so we’re being able to reach out to more students, but also to start that with high school sophomores,” Levine said. “The earlier you start, you start to build a connection with those students.” 

In 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Simpson started working with EAB to work on increasing enrollment on many fronts. 

“The number of completed applications has gone up tremendously,” Levine said. “And, by starting those relationships earlier, there is more of a relationship so that by the time they get to the application part, if they’re accepted, the likelihood that they’re going to decide to come is greater.” 

This wasn’t an immediate cause-and-effect reaction like what you’d see in a chemistry class. Instead, the name of the game was waiting for a new normal to set in, and also work on admissions in other ways. 

“There is not one silver bullet when it comes to that [admissions],” Mlozdik said. “There was a lot of focus on backyard [admissions focused in Iowa] and bringing students to campus. So we did a number of different trips throughout the course of last year to get students on campus, too.” 

In addition to working with EAB, there has been a strong focus on athletic recruitment, as well. 

We [Simpson Athletics] have strategically grown existing rosters in an effort to increase the competitiveness of our teams,” Director of Athletics Marty Bell said. “We have also introduced new athletic programs that were a strong fit for the Simpson campus. This two-fold approach has been an integral part of the overall enrollment strategy for the College.

Alongside recruitment and working with EAB, Simpson also announced new scholarship programs, the $100K Promise and the 99 County Full Tuition Program, with the hope to have another surge of growth in the next few years. 

If the new normal for Simpson is growth, that means there are going to be new problems for the college, but ones that Levine said would be welcomed with open and eager arms. 

“We would love to have to worry about that [growth],” she said. “We have so many first-year students coming in, that we’re either going to have to triple them up or convert lounges to make room, things like that. I love that. I think we’re still a couple of years away from having that problem, but that would be the best problem to have to confront.”

President Jay Byers said this kind of growth is something to look forward to, but it doesn’t stop right now, it’s a game of keeping momentum.

“We are very optimistic about continued enrollment growth in the coming years,” Byers said. “There’s a lot of momentum at Simpson right now and we’re just getting started. And as we continue to strengthen the educational experience we offer, I think we will realize both new student enrollment growth and increases in student retention.” 

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About the Contributors
Kyle Werner
Kyle Werner, Managing Editor & Social Media Manager
Taryn Bertini
Taryn Bertini, Staff Reporter

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