Poised for Success

York College enrollment at 10-year high

by Candace Blomendahl, York NewsTimes

York College is a place where everyone matters.

With 483 students, fall 2010 enrollment at York College is at a 10-year high, according to York College President Steve Eckman. There were 430 students enrolled last fall, and 396 were enrolled in the fall of 2008. Enrollment is up 22% in just two years, Eckman said.

The current 483 students represent 34 states and 11 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Spain, Greece, England, France, Canada and Kenya. Eckman said many of the foreign and out-of-state students arrive in York because of word of mouth from other students who have attended the college or have come to participate in an athletic team.

“People who come from foreign countries are amazed at this place,” Eckman said.

Many do not realize that education exists on such a personal, one-on-one level, Eckman noted.

“It’s a pretty unique experience,” he said.

Students know everybody on campus, and everyone comes out to support their fellow peers. No matter what the activity or event is, students are happy to take part in the experience.

“It’s a different environment,” Eckman said.

Students also come to York College to play Junior Varsity sports, Eckman added, and people come to watch and support the JV games.

“It’s a very close-knit campus,” Eckman noted. “You can’t walk across campus without someone saying ‘Hi’ to you,” whether they know who you are or not.

In the last couple of years, the college has focused on increasing student satisfaction. Projects such as remodeling the cafeteria and giving freshmen their own private dorm rooms are just two of the ways the college is ensuring students enjoy their time in York.

Of the 300 students who visited campus last year, 60% enrolled in classes.

“If we can get them here, we have a good chance of them coming here,” Eckman said. “There’s a sense of excitement on campus.”

York College is not just a friendly place.

“The academic quality is very, very high,” Eckman added.

All York College pre-medicine students who meet the college’s requirements will get in to medical school. Eckman said the acceptance rate for all professional schools is very high.

Eckman said the spiritual aspect of the college “is who we are. It’s what sets us apart.”

Even if students are not looking for the spiritual side of the college, it grows on you, Eckman noted. However, Eckman said students with no spiritual background will probably not select the college.

Not everyone will enjoy it here, Eckman said, but the enrollment numbers prove the college is finding the kind of students who like this kind of environment.

“We’re poised for a great future because of that,” Eckman said.

The college has learned how to keep that close-knit atmosphere alive. At 10 a.m. every weekday morning, students are required to attend chapel at the Freeman Center.

The entire student body gathered for praise chapel Friday morning and were reminded of what it is they love about their school.

York College sophomore Jeremy Burgener of Gering is a Business Administration and Business Education major and a member of the baseball team. Burgener likes how teachers relate to students on a personal level.

“If you ask a teacher a question, they’ll answer you and help you as much as they can,” Burgener said. “You can call them at night if you need to.”

Because of the small size of the student body, Burgener said you have the chance to get to know everyone.

“Everyone’s friends here,” Burgener said.

Nick Harlan, coach of the York College baseball team, attended the school for two years and has an appreciation for what it offers students.

“I like the campus unity,” Harlan said. “It’s a home away from home.”

Students have a support system at York College and are surrounded by a family atmosphere. Staff and faculty members care about students as individuals, Harlan said.

The baseball team gets a tremendous amount of student and faculty support, Harlan noted.

“The faculty respects our discipline,” Harlan said.

At York College, students receive a balanced experience. Harlan said his players can be involved in other aspects of campus life besides baseball. The coach also appreciates the college on a personal level.

“It allows me to express my faith as a coach,” Harlan said.

Carson Tuttle, a sophomore from Lincoln, led the praise chapel Friday morning.

“I think it’s a real blessing to come together as a community and worship and pray together,” Tuttle said.

Tuttle appreciates the chance to do something as one campus community. He is involved in York Campus Ministries, which organizes and plans the student-led worship times.

“It’s something we love to put together and organize,” Tuttle said.

Speakers are invited to chapel to address students Monday through Thursdays. The speakers can be teachers, students or someone from outside of the campus, Tuttle noted. On Fridays, the special praise chapel is a chance for students to spend most of the time singing worship songs together.

Daily chapel is just one of the many worship activities York Campus Ministries organizes. The group also hosts a Wednesday devotional night as well as a Sunday communion service at 9 p.m.

“We come together and build a community of God on our campus,” Tuttle said.

The Sunday evening communion service is totally student led, Tuttle noted, and was started by students. Communion is a personal experience, but it becomes something more when you have the chance to take part in it with the people you go to school with, Tuttle said.

York College junior and basketball player Dee Ellison of Sherman, Texas, likes the small campus atmosphere and family base that York College offers him. Ellison came to York to play basketball and appreciates how much fan support the team receives.

Ellison also likes the one-on-one interaction with teachers, who are always willing to help and will even invite students over for dinner.

“It’s a great place to go for college,” Ellison said.

Joanna Overly, a sophomore from St. Joseph, Mo., likes the personalized academic experience and how all of the professors know your name.

“If you’re struggling, they take the time,” to help you out, Overly said. “It’s like a family here.”

Sophomore Angel Gray of Glendale, Ariz., said if students are going through a difficult time, people at the college will pray for them.

“You really develop relationships here,” Gray said.

Gray is member of the softball team and is involved in the choir and Psallo group, but she does not feel torn in two directions because her coach and the choir director work together. Faculty and staff at the college are constantly in communication and figuring out schedules so everyone can be involved in all the activities that interest them.

Lorena Lucas, a senior basketball player from Vitoria, Brazil, came to York after playing basketball for a junior college in Scottsbluff.

“I had some other offers, but I visited here and fell in love,” Lucas said.

Lucas likes the kindness of the people at York College.

“I feel like I’m home even though I don’t have any family here,” Lucas said.

As students, staff and faculty left the Freeman Center Friday morning and headed off in different directions for the day, Eckman noted just how important chapel is to the college as a whole.

“It really keeps us connected,” Eckman said.

As the current enrollment numbers prove, York College will continue to be a home where all can succeed and be appreciated.

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