Archived Voice Articles
We'll be needing you beyond Jubilee
By Judy Hagey
Director of alumni relations
Judy (Vande Hoef) Hagey
In a year when we’re marking Dordt College’s 50th anniversary with some thirty events across North America and preparing for the mother of all reunions and celebrations next July, it’s difficult to think of anything other than Jubilee. Yet it’s important that we not become so caught up in the celebration of what Dordt has become that we neglect to look beyond this year.
Several years ago George Dehne, the president of a research and consulting firm, in an article on the future of private colleges, noted some startling demographic and economic trends.
- The U.S Census Bureau estimates that by 2005 people of color will comprise fifty percent of the population eighteen and under.
- By 2010 one-third of the nation’s youth will reside in one of four states: California, Florida, New York or Texas.
- Ninety percent of families with children under twelve expect college to be in their future, yet roughly seventy percent of American families have $5000 or less saved for each child’s education.
- The average federal Pell grant covered only nine percent of private education costs in 1998.
In addition, student expectations for their college experience are significantly different than they were for Dordt’s first students in 1955. Today students are attracted to larger campuses with a majority preferring a campus of 5000 or more. Most students prefer an urban or suburban area and an “always open, always on” lifestyle. They want dorm rooms like their single, well-furnished, electronically stimulating rooms at home. They like to be with students of similar values and interests, yet they are looking for highly personalized treatment in the admissions process as well as in the classroom. Students and their families approach the college decision as a consumer, comparison shopping among several colleges, and placing a premium on time and money. At the same time, there is a growing interest and appreciation for values and spiritual matters.
It would be a mistake to ignore these expectations. But it would be a greater mistake to allow the culture and changing expectations to drive our decisions. Persistent commitment to its mission and perspective is perhaps Dordt’s greatest strength and distinction. Our challenge then is to present ourselves as a viable, credible option in the arena of Christian colleges without compromising our mission.
Dehne advises colleges to become experts in one-to-one marketing, to use “real materials,” i.e. faculty, students, and alumni “to tell your institution’s story.” One of our most important resources for the future then, is those who know us best—our alumni. You are our past and our future. We need you to be the “real materials” that testify to the value of Dordt College for future generations.