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Midland University Welcomes Largest Class in 130 Years With Third-Consecutive Year of Major Growth

Midland University Welcomes Largest Class in 130 Years With Third-Consecutive Year of Major Growth

Sep 11th , 2012

For the third year in a row, Midland University is welcoming a healthier freshman class to campus than the previous year.  This year’s class marks the largest Midland has seen since its founding in 1883 – and constitutes a 32% increase over last year’s record-setting new enrollment.

With 484 new students, including 364 freshmen and 120 transfers, Midland officials attribute the stunning growth to the overwhelming response of parents and students to the ‘Four-Year Graduation Guarantee’ announced last September. 

“There are no excuses for the fact that it is now taking most students nationally five, five-and-a-half, and six years to graduate.  It is colleges’ responsibility to advise well enough, and to schedule classes efficiently enough, for students to graduate in four years,” said Midland University President, Dr. Ben Sasse. “It’s time for colleges to reject the status quo, to fix their structural problems, and to do what is right for students.”

To transform the college experience from a four-year “graduation possibility” to a four-year “graduation promise,” Midland is reinventing the process of advising students.  From a central advising center, the Center for the Four-Year Guarantee, Midland helps students build strategies to successfully navigate the challenges of moving from home and into college life.  Beginning with a required “Midland 101” class for all freshmen, students from their first weekend of orientation are pushed to plan both to become more intellectually curious and to purposefully schedule the courses they will need for an on-time graduation. 

“At most schools,” Dr. Sasse noted, “traditional advising waits for students to swim through the bureaucracy or to get into trouble before anyone reaches out.  At Midland, our professors and advisors go grab them and hug them.  We are using large amounts of data, from absences in certain classes to low marks on early-semester assignments, to help identify struggling students early – and then to get them extra help and support.” 

First announced in late 2011, the Midland Four-Year Guarantee provides students a guaranteed path to complete their degrees in four years.  While many schools nationally now make similar “guarantees,” Midland is unique in its commitment to pay the remaining tuition and fees should a student who meets basic requirements somehow fail to graduate on-time in four years. 

“We are committed to building a truly student-centered experience.  That’s what motivates our dedicated faculty and that’s what drives our course scheduling and advising here,” said Vice President for Admissions Eliza Ferzely.  “The interest has been profound.  Parents are clearly looking for a partner in the success of their children.”

In tandem with advising efforts, Midland has reviewed and adjusted class schedules and streamlined degree programs to ensure that every student can graduate in four years while still enjoying the broad base of knowledge best developed through a comprehensive liberal arts education.

“Students need time to explore their passions, but with support and guidance in choosing a path and achieving their goals. This is the heart of the four-year guarantee,” Ms. Ferzely explained.

The unique pledge to this incoming class enables students to explore various programs throughout their first year before choosing a major and still be guaranteed a path to graduation on-time. As the first class to which this promise has been made, Midland is experiencing a record-breaking response to its convention-shattering commitment.

The record crop of new students has driven continued growth in total enrollment at Midland. On the heels of several successively larger classes, Midland’s total campus enrollment has now grown 85% in just three years. The influx of new students has rapidly augmented the culture of involvement on campus.

Secure in the knowledge that they will have the support needed to graduate in four years, new students have quickly filled the rosters of extra-curricular opportunities throughout the campus. With a steadily expanding athletic department that now stands at 25 varsity sports, newly added performing arts programs, and a broad assortment of campus clubs, many students have found avenues to involvement in multiple areas of campus life.

The new energy coursing through campus is not limited to the undergraduate experience at the University. While expanding existing graduate offerings, Midland is also recruiting its first MBA cohort to begin classes this January.  The new MBA program will offer a combination of live on-line course work with traditional in-person classes in Omaha.

Built on a 130 year tradition of equipping students to realize their potential, today’s Midland University is delivering students prepared to compete in the knowledge economy, and doing it in four years. 

For more, check out Tuesday's Fremont Tribune article here.