The arrival of the largest class of first-year, full-time undergraduate students since 2015 and the third largest class in the last two decades has helped Morningside College kick off the 2019-2020 academic year.

SIOUX CITY, IOWA – The arrival of the largest class of first-year, full-time undergraduate students since 2015 and the third largest class in the last two decades has helped Morningside College kick off the 2019-2020 academic year.

The Morningside College Class of 2023 is comprised of 367 students from 23 states and 10 countries. The group represents a nearly six and a half percent increase in first-year students over the previous year.

“The energy on campus is palpable,” said John Reynders, president of Morningside College. “This group of students continues to impress us with how dynamic and engaged they are. We look forward to watching them grow as their roots deepen within our Morningside community.”

Reynders recognizes that as a whole, higher education is facing many headwinds from which Morningside hasn’t been immune. He credits the Morningside College community for not being deterred by those challenges.

“Our faculty and staff continue to make bold moves to ensure that students and families are not only getting the best Morningside experience possible, but that our students and families feel confident in the value of their Morningside education. We want to keep doing things that instill a deep sense of pride in being part of Morningside. It’s something we don’t intend to let up on.”

A few new initiatives Morningside has put in place include the new X Path program, development of active learning opportunities, expansion of programs tied to high-demand fields, and implementation of the Morningside XP Guarantee.

X Path was developed last fall to serve as Morningside’s version of undecided. Students who choose the X Path participate in active learning opportunities such as strengths-based testing and career-focused field trips to explore possible career options while gaining relevant experience. The college chose to design the program in response to the high number of first-year college students nationwide who either don’t feel confident in their chosen major or simply haven’t selected a major upon entering college. The program allows Morningside students to be undecided, but with a place, space, and plenty of guidance to explore.

Active learning is another area where Morningside continues to invest. Work is underway to expand experiential learning for first- and second-year students. Additionally, the college has also added the Adventure Program for students coming from learner-centered high schools like Iowa BIG. The options within the Adventure Program give students more autonomy to drive and self-design their learning.

One class being offered as part of the Adventure Program that is also open to all Morningside students is Project Siouxland, a project-based class that pairs students with community partners to take on real-world challenges. Both have been well received and are attracting new students who may not have otherwise have considered Morningside.

The college is also taking measures to invest in programs connected to high-demand career fields. For example, the Regina Roth Applied Agriculture and Food Studies program added an Agriculture Education major last year to address shortages of ag teachers, and Applied Agriculture & Food Studies graduates continue to be in high demand with regional employers.

Morningside also responded to nationwide shortages of special education teachers and nurses with a doctoral degree with two new programs that launched this fall. The Special Education Certification Only program is a unique Iowa licensure-only teacher preparation program that allows individuals with an existing bachelor’s degree in a non-teaching field to become special education educators through an accelerated program. The new Doctor of Nursing Practice program is the college’s first doctoral program and offers two tracks, rounding out a full complement of nursing education at Morningside that includes options within the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the Master of Science in Nursing programs.

Finally, as conversations about the value of higher education have emerged at a national level, Morningside chose to double down on its work. The Morningside XP Guarantee assures Morningside students and families that full-time undergraduate students at Morningside will graduate in four years or less, find employment or be accepted to graduate school within six months of graduation, and gain experience through active learning while at Morningside. If a student does not achieve those benchmarks and has met the basic requirements of the XP Guarantee, Morningside will cover the cost of an additional semester at Morningside to assist the student in reaching their next chapter.

 “We have a great product here, but more importantly we have incredible students,” said Reynders. “Morningside is continuously striving for excellence in all things. The work we have been doing is part of that, and the response we have seen this recent work is motivation to continue innovating. We tell our students that experience matters, and it is our intention to make sure we keep building an exceptional Morningside experience for our current students and all those to come.”