Hope College has enrolled a record number of first-time students, helping build overall attendance at Hope to the second-highest ever.

Hope has 723 first-time students this year. Hope
had 695 first-time students last fall, and the previous high
was 713, set in the fall of 1994.

Overall enrollment this fall is 2,911, the second
time in history that Hope has had more than 2,900 students.
Enrollment last fall was 2,849, and the previous high was
2,919 in the fall of 1995.

The student body is comprised of 1,204 men and
1,707 women from 38 states and territories, as well as from
33 foreign countries.

In addition to being large, the incoming class
also brings in solid academic credentials, according to Dr.
James Bekkering, vice president for admissions. The class's
composite ACT and SAT scores average 26 and 1,200
respectively; the mean grade point average is 3.62; and more
than a third of the new degree-seeking students come from
the top 10 percent of their graduating high school classes.
Hope has 22 National Merit Scholars among its freshmen--the
previous high was 17 in the fall of 1995.

Although the freshman class's academic statistics
are up, it's not because Hope has required it so, according
to Bekkering.

"Our admissions standards as regards academic
performance haven't changed dramatically," he said. "What
has changed, particularly over the last five or six years,
is the applicant pool, which has become stronger."

Bekkering cited a number of reasons for the
development, including the college's growing academic
reputation; the quality of life on campus, such as the way
that students and faculty relate to each other; increased
appreciation of Hope's Christian character; and the quality
of the college's facilities and Hope's location in Holland.

Students transferring to Hope from other colleges
and universities total 54, compared with 64 in 1996. There
are 88 students enrolled in off-campus programs, compared to
98 last year.

The enrollment by class, with last year's class in
parentheses, is: freshmen, 740 (733); sophomores, 706
(705); juniors, 657 (632); seniors, 656 (621); and special
students, 152 (158).

The largest student representation comes from
Michigan with 2,118 students, followed by: Illinois, 227;
Indiana, 60; New York, 54; Ohio, 46; Minnesota, 32; New
Jersey, 26; Wisconsin, 23; Iowa, 16; California, 11;
Florida, 11; Missouri, 11; and Colorado, 10.

Foreign countries represented in the student body
include Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Ecuador,
Ethiopia, France, Germany, India, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan,
Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Mexico, Nepal, Norway, Pakistan,
Palestine, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Spain,
Taiwan, Turkey, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Venezuela,
Vietnam, Yugoslavia and Zambia.

Hope College was chartered in 1866 and is
affiliated with the Reformed Church in America (RCA). The
college offers courses in 53 majors leading to a Bachelor of
Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of
Science in Nursing degree.