Welcome Class of 2021 written in chalk on the steps going into Herrick Chappel
A welcome to the class of 2021 written on the steps into Herrick Chapel.


Welcoming the Class of 2021

Capping off New Student Orientation, all Grinnell first-years attend a ceremony that connects the College's past to their futures. This year more than 400 students entered Herrick Chapel for the Medallion Ceremony. President Raynard Kington explained the significance of the medallion via the College’s memorable launching point.

“The medallion represents the moment 172 years ago when a loose band of abolitionists, philosophers, and theologians launched the College that has now become Grinnell,” Kington said.

“One of those band members was James J. Hill who stood up, threw a silver dollar on the table and declared, ‘Now then! Appoint your trustees to take care of that dollar for Iowa College.’ That was the founding dollar of Grinnell's endowment, and the story continues today as students are given a silver medallion to commemorate Hill's gift and signify a responsibility to help sustain the College in the future. President Kington concluded tying this story to the historic $32 million raised by Grinnell last school year; second largest fundraising year in the school’s history.

The three additional speakers on the day were: Sierra Silverwood ’18, Aamir Walton ’15, and Megan Goering ’08. Silverwood welcomed the class of 2021 on behalf of Student Alumni Council (SAC) while telling her own story about her Medallion Ceremony four years ago. Silverwood noted “you’re a student for four years, but you’re an alum for life” in light of the close knit community that comes with being a Grinnellian.

Walton views a Grinnell education as a privilege. And like other privileges — wealth or class, for example — it is best used to help others who lack it. “The most important part of philanthropy,” he stressed, “is participating.”

Speaker Megan Goering '08 addresses the class of 2021.
Keynote speaker Megan Goering '08 addresses the class of 2021.


As the event’s keynote speaker, Goering reminded the students to embrace their Grinnell journey with grace. Allow themselves to make mistakes and not giving in to the overwhelming pressure to always do the right thing every time….”it’s okay to make mistakes.” She noted, “sometimes you have to go forward to a place you don’t know to later figure out where you are that will then tell you where you are going — when there seems to be nowhere to go, go forward as a means of bold action!”

A Closer Look at the Class of 2021

Grinnell College expects to enroll 449 members of the Class of 2021. Official enrollment data will not be available until late September, following the college’s official census date.

Here are a few preliminary statistics about this first-year class.

  • 52% female/48% male
  • 24.5% are domestic students of color
  • 13% are first-generation college students
  • 22% are international students from 29 different countries
  • 59% attended public schools
  • Incoming first-years represent 44 different states and the District of Columbia
  • The median ACT score was a 32

The students of the class of 2021 were active members of their high schools and in their communities. Here is a snapshot of what they participated in before enrolling at Grinnell College.

  • 69% participated in community service
  • 68% participated in the arts (music, theatre, dance, visual art, debate, speech, and/or forensics)
  • 51% were varsity athletes
  • 27% were members of their student government associations or were involved in politics
  • 16% worked for their school publications
  • 9% engaged in religious activities
  • 8% were active in environmental programs