Welcoming the class of 2025

August 26, 2021 — Setting foot today in their first Grinnell College classrooms in itself will be an immense achievement for the class of 2025.

The 472 first-year students – who arrived at Grinnell over the past two weeks from 46 different states and 31 countries – overcame numerous hurdles placed in front of them by the pandemic. 

Grinnell President Anne F. Harris joins Melanie Oden ’25 and her family members for a photo.
Grinnell President Anne F. Harris joins Melanie Oden ’25 and her family members for a photo.

“There is joy, triumph, and a tremendous amount of resolving creativity in holding the space together today, and I am grateful to you and your loved ones and the hundreds of phenomenal and dedicated faculty and staff at the College for making it possible,” Grinnell College President Anne F. Harris said at a welcoming ceremony for first-year students held Aug. 20. “In these past few days and for the coming weeks we will come into community. We will come to know each other and learn from each other as we engage in our mission – to use our knowledge and our ability to serve the common good.”

Even with the pandemic limiting some traditional recruiting avenues, Grinnell College received a record number of applications for fall 2021 – a total of 10,587. The College admitted 10.5% of applicants this year.

“You have made it through one of the most selective processes in the history of the College,” Brad Lindberg, assistant vice president of enrollment, told the class of 2025. “How great is it to see all of you here today. You have no idea how long we’ve been waiting to meet you in person. My colleagues spent hours reading your applications and advocating for your admission. We got to know you through Zoom calls. As you know better than most, you’ve been through some of the most daunting educational challenges in recent memory.”

The welcome ceremony included the presentation of commemorative medallions to the first-year students. The medallions pay tribute to an important event in the College’s history. On June 10, 1846, James J. Hill of the Iowa Band laid a silver dollar on the table at a meeting of the Iowa College Association, declaring it to be the seed of an endowment to support outstanding students and faculty. 

First-year students display the medallions they received at the class of 2025 welcome ceremony.
First-year students display the medallions they received at the class of 2025 welcome ceremony Friday.

Since its inception in 1998, new students are annually given a silver medallion to commemorate Hill’s gift and signify a responsibility to help sustain the College and our community now and in the future. The medallions have an engraving of the oldest building on campus, Goodnow Hall, on one side and the students’ graduation year on the other. 

“I would like you to think of where the medallion will reside for the next four years,” Harris said. “Perhaps it will be in a special place where you live. Perhaps you will entrust it to your loved ones, asking them to keep it until we all gather on the stage again in four years. Perhaps you put it away. Whatever you decide, I hope it will serve to remind you of the trust that you have placed in us to nurture you and champion you and cheer you on in both tribulation and triumph.”

Prior to fall classes starting today, first-year students took part in New Student Orientation (NSO) from Aug. 20-25. NSO included numerous get to know Grinnell activities, such as a campus scavenger hunt, introductions to campus offices and resources, class photos, a speed friending session, and various group interaction and entertainment. 

This week also marks the first time some students from the class of 2024 are on campus since coursework was primarily completed virtually last school year. Students did have an option of an eight-week stay in Grinnell residence halls last winter though classes remained online. A welcome to Grinnell event for all second-year students was held on Aug. 21. 

The class of 2025 includes 90 students from outside the U.S. They, along with 45 second-year international students, are taking classes in Grinnell for the first time. (In total, the College enrolls about 350 international students from 46 nations.) New international students participated in the International Pre-Orientation Program (IPOP) from Aug. 15-19 prior to NSO. 

Class of 2025 students participate in an New Student Orientation activity on Mac Field.
Class of 2025 students participate in a New Student Orientation activity on Mac Field.

While having a full residential campus has been a pleasing sight in Grinnell, the fall semester will look and feel a bit different than usual. The College shifted to a modified blue activity level on Aug. 24, indicating that a number of community health precautions will be in place for most campus activities.  

All Grinnell students are required to be vaccinated as are College faculty and staff. Masks are required indoors in shared spaces regardless of vaccination status. Students also are required to wear masks in residence hall shared spaces and when moving around the dining hall (which is not open to the public, faculty, or staff at this time). 

Classes are being held in-person this fall. After going to an eight-week term schedule for 2020-21, the traditional 16-week semester schedule is back this academic year. 

Speakers at the welcoming ceremonies shared advice and helpful tips for students. Elaine Marzluff, interim dean of the College, talked about the myriad of academic opportunities.

“We have invested in these programs to invest in your success,” she said. “Make sure you take advantage of academic opportunities outside the classroom. Seek the chance to interact with the rich co-curricular activities that we offer. Don’t be afraid to take risks and to realize that it will help you grow and learn. Finally, have fun and take time to enjoy these new experiences. I’m so looking forward to getting to fully know you, and for us to help you follow your dreams.”

— by Jeremy Shapiro

Meet a few students from the class of 2025


For your information:

As of Aug. 10, Grinnell College expects to enroll 475 new students in August 2021 – 472 first-year students and three transfer students. Official enrollment data will not be available until September, following the College’s official census date, but here are a few preliminary statistics about the entering class:

  • 27 percent are domestic students of color
  • 19 percent are international students
  • 57 percent graduated from U.S. public high schools (includes charter schools)
  • 11 percent are the first in their family to attend College
  • 28 percent will be Grinnell student-athletes
  • 31 different countries are represented in the class of 2025. The United States, China, India, South Korea, Vietnam, and Japan have the largest representation.
  • Incoming students hail from 46 different U.S. states and Washington D.C. The top six states where students reside are California, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New York, and Texas.

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 they participated:

  • 68 percent were involved in community service activities
  • 68 percent participated in high school athletics or club sports
  • 66 percent were active in the arts (art, dance, drama, music, speech, or other cultural activities)
  • 52 percent held jobs, completed internships, or were involved in other career activities
  • 27 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

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