University Sees Record Enrollment

Olivet Nazarene University has officially broken their record enrollment, reaching over 5,000 students this academic year.

“Right now, this fall, there are 5,002 students,” Jordan Gerstenberger, Director of Recruitment in Admissions, states. This accounts for the 3,000 undergraduate students attending on campus, as well as the students enrolled in Olivet’s graduate studies program.

Dean of Academic Operations, Dr. Jonathan Pickering, considers this a “big milestone” for Olivet.

2017 was a record year across the board. From freshmen to graduate students to transfer students, Olivet is breaking records with this new number of enrollments.

The number of incoming freshmen has surpassed a yearly goal of 750 by one enrollment. Compared to 2016, Olivet now welcomes 47 more first-year students to campus.

With more students consistently returning each year, along with new enrollments, “We’ve had a steady increase over the last decade,” Gerstenberger states.

“We had a lot of new graduate students in our education program,” Dr. Pickering states. Only a small percentage of this number were prior Olivetians.

The past two years have been very prosperous for Olivet’s graduate program, as opposed to traditional on-campus numbers, which have remained steady the last few years. In fact, “Most of the growth that we’ve seen in the last two years has been growth on the graduate side,” Dr. Pickering states.

Looking back on Olivet’s enrollment history, this is the highest enrollment within the last decade. “We brought in 600 freshmen in 2008,” Dr. Pickering recounts. Since then, traditional on-campus numbers have steadily increased, and now, break the annual goal, reaching 751.

Compared to 2013, when Olivet brought in 277 grad students, the university rose in enrollment this year with 401 new students for graduate studies.

Due to a large increase of graduate students online, Olivet is not only expanding in size but in recognition across the country.

“Many of our students are online, so we have students in California, overseas, and so on,” Dr. Pickering said.

While the graduate program thrives, the campus benefits as well.

“A lot of the revenue from those programs actually comes back into the main campus and helps improve what we’re doing with our traditional campus,” Dr. Pickering states.

This increasing enrollment calls for and enables the university to implement more programs and bring in new majors. Due to recent growth in engineering students, ONU has added a new concentration to the field.

“We don’t look at students as means to bring in money or as a number to our population; we look at what we’re bringing to those students: an educational experience that’s going to transform their lives academically, socially, spiritually, and mentally,” Gerstenberger says.

Over the last ten years, Olivet’s enrollment has only gone up. The university has, and continues, to stay focused on keeping students interested and satisfied in choosing Olivet Nazarene University.

“The university itself has a lot of name recognition for a lot of different reasons, but ultimately, it really comes down to the people in admissions and across campus on all sides,” Dr. Pickering states.

The work that goes on to achieve these records is substantial. With Olivet’s admissions team behind these results, it is no wonder that enrollment has increased every year.

“In current trends that we’re seeing—not just here at Olivet, but from comparison reports from other schools—students are applying to less universities than they were four or five years ago,” Gerstenberger says.

Olivet has reached a record enrollment at a time when students are enrolling to only a select few schools. Four years ago, students would be more likely to apply to at least five or ten different colleges; now it is apparent that high school seniors will only send applications for two or three schools at most.

“It takes more to get a student to apply than what it used to,” Gerstenberger says.

Olivet has prospered in student growth during this time. With the knowledge of these current trends, Olivet stands out by their willingness to step up to meet the needs and the quality of these more selective students.

“There’s an immediacy factor for seniors in high school now. When it comes to smartphones or technology, they get what they want within an instant, so we have to serve that population with information in an instant. This could look like contacting students as quick as we can, or you could lose out,” Gerstenberger says.

With Olivet’s highly-trained admissions team prepared for the generations to come, they work to accommodate and recruit accordingly.

The admissions team puts in work to invest in each individual student attentively, with the most help they can possibly extend day-in and day-out.

Although admissions is a huge process, it is evident through the numbers that every person along every step of the way carries out their career here with passion, diligence, and the utmost care for students.

Part of Gerstenberger’s duties as Director of Recruitment in Admissions is planning college fairs and high school visits to recruit students. Olivet is a part of NACCAP and attends every Christian college fair within the area. Altogether, Olivet is represented at 120 high school visits and 120 college fairs in all neighboring states and across the country as well.

This is just one example of the many factors that the admissions staff contributes to increase the number of students who know about Olivet.

“I think we’re going to see the overall numbers continue to climb, and that’s really a wonderful thing because its extending the ability of the university to reach people who otherwise maybe wouldn’t know a lot about Christ,” Dr. Pickering states.

Why are more students choosing Olivet? ONU attracts many scholars interested in a wide range of studies, but Olivet also offers those more unique, smaller majors that some state schools do not have.

“To be able to work in an environment and be a student in an environment where Christ is at the center is just a huge advantage,” Dr. Pickering states.

“I think what it comes down to is… Olivet is really a premiere university, not just in the private school and Christian school realm, but what we offer academically and in extracurricular activities,” Gertsenberger states.

Graduate programs through Olivet consists of the most in-demand needs at this time. From nursing to reading specialists, Olivet is home to many various scholars.

It’s not just what Olivet has to offer and the way they reach out to students; what is found year after year that truly confirms a student’s decision is the atmosphere they experience on campus.

“Many times, we have students and family say, ‘There’s just something different about this place.’ The experience they receive when they visit campus is really second to none” Gerstenberger says.


  1. I am impressed with this article. In fact, I am impressed with the on-line version of the Glimmerglass!

    Thanks to each of the Glimmerglass associates for their hard work; and thanks to the Admissions Office for their excellent and dedicated efforts!

    The Criminal Justice Program is blessed by both the Glimmerglass and the Admissions Office.

    1. On behalf of Admissions, thank you Dr. Bishop for all that you do for current and prospective students. Your dedication to Olivet’s success is evident.

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