Welcoming the class of 2024

September 16, 2020 — Spread out across 17 different time zones, 365 first-year Grinnell College students and six transfers have started their Grinnellian experience in unparalleled circumstances.  

The class of 2024 arrived virtually Aug. 31 for the first day of classes in Fall Term 1. While they are not physically present, their presence in the Grinnell community already is evident.

“You are from many places, but together you comprise the most essential element of our community – our students, and the promise that you represent inspires us to forge ahead even in the face of adversity,” Joe Bagnoli, vice president for enrollment, dean of admission & financial aid, told students at a Sept. 3 welcome webinar. “We welcome new and continuing students to what must be the most unusual academic year in the history of Grinnell. We are so pleased that you’re with us, and excited to see where you as a group of students will take us.”

While Grinnell College leaders had originally intended for many first-year students to be on-campus during the first fall term, the rise in COVID-19 cases this summer shuttered those plans.

Tentative plans are to have first-year students on campus instead for Spring Term 1, which begins on Feb. 1.


The class of 2024 has gotten to know the College and each other despite not being on campus. The annual New Student Orientation (NSO) was moved online. In lieu of a Medallion Ceremony at Herrick Chapel, a video (embeded above) featuring President Anne Harris, students, and several alumni was sent to students by their peers on the Student Alumni Council. First-year students will receive their medallions through the mail later this fall.

Social media groups for first-year students provided introductions (see examples below), connection points, and some of the usual get-to-know you conversations that typically happen at NSO or in the first few weeks of school.

The entire class of 2024 is comprised of 397 students. Some first-year students deferred enrollments until spring. Looking at the class as a whole, the number of countries where students are from rises to 31. China, India, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, and Brazil have the largest international representation. Domestically, the top six states where students come from are Illinois, California, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, and Missouri.

Infographic showing the states and countries First-year students hail from. The US map has every state but UT, WY, MT, ND, SD, AR, KY and WV in red. The country maps shows 30 pins spread over 6 continents.

Vida Praitis, a biology professor and chair of the faculty, says faculty members – in conjunction with campus partners – spent the summer creating virtual courses that will be engaging and overcome some of the inherent challenges of remote learning.

“We have created courses that I think are going to be really fun and exciting,” she said in the welcome webinar. “As you know, we have an individually mentored curriculum at Grinnell. We think of the individual in everything that we do. And we believe that our coursework, our pedagogy, and the work that we do in classrooms is tailored to each and every one of our students, so that each of you can have an exceptional learning experience.”

She encouraged students to take advantage of faculty members’ office hours.

“I know these are virtual, but all of us really want to see you,” she said. “We are energized by our interactions with our students. And it doesn’t have to be limited to subjects in class. It can be that you want to talk about careers, think about your schedules, or just chat about what is going on.”

The class of 2024 enters Grinnell at a turbulent time. Beyond the health pandemic, the racial injustice struggles in the U.S. have brought about a renewed commitment by College leadership to address systemic racism. Over the next four years, students will be invited to partake in anti-racism work and educational opportunities.

“I invite you all into the conversation,” President Anne Harris told students during the welcome webinar. “I know that your work as students will contribute to the national conversation whether it’s from here in the prairie or there in your bedroom. No matter where you are, you’re engaging in knowledge, and you’re engaging in the actions that move our society forward.”

Meet a few students from the class of 2024


—by Jeremy Shapiro

For your information:

Grinnell College expects to enroll 397 members of the class of 2024. A total of 365 of those students began taking classes in Fall Term 1. Official enrollment data will be available in late September, following the College’s official census date. Here are a few preliminary statistics about the students who are enrolled this fall.

  • 23 different countries and 42 U.S. states are represented
  • 23 percent are domestic students of color
  • 15 percent are international students (number increases to 20% when adding in intended spring enrollees)
  • 15 percent are the first in their family to attend college
  • 23 percent will be Grinnell student-athletes

These new Grinnellians were active members of their high schools and communities. Here is a snapshot of the types of high school activities in which students who are enrolled this fall participated:

  • 71 percent were active in the arts (art, dance, drama, music, speech, or other cultural activities)
  • 66 percent were involved in community service activities
  • 62 percent participated in high school athletics or club sports
  • 51 percent held jobs, completed internships, or were involved in other career activities
  • 22 percent served in student government or were active in politics or social justice activities
  • 14 percent were student journalists or participated in high school publications

Bonus Fun Facts: The most common first names of first-year students are William, David, Elizabeth, and Sarah. The most common birth months are March and June.  

To read more alumni news, check out our news archive.