Continuing a trend that has dogged the school for years, Bob Jones University will again host significantly fewer students this year than the last. Sources with knowledge of BJU’s admissions department confirmed to BJU News today that the “new student” count is down by over 250 year-over-year.
Exact BJU enrollment numbers are always difficult to calculate, especially given the school’s reluctance to disclose the relevant statistics. At this time last year, BJU publicly declined to offer even an estimate of the size of its incoming freshman class, though that figure was later revealed on this site. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to make sense of the enrollment numbers BJU does publish, even when the publishing is intended to be internal-only (as last year). For example, BJU claimed 711 incoming freshman at that faculty meeting last fall. This does not square with numbers published to the US DOE, nor does it fit with a cursory counting of students in the school’s yearbook. Attrition due to expulsion and transfers probably accounts for much of these discrepancies, though to the cynical observer BJU’s tendency to publish enrollment numbers that consistently exceed those verifiable through outside sources might smack of exaggeration. Nothing would serve as a better reminder of fundamentalism’s shrinking target demographic than steadily declining enrollment at its most recognizable university, and if BJU had a mind to obscure that shrinking, then obfuscation of its enrollment numbers would be an effective tactic. BJU also appears to count Academy students taking college courses, graduate students and possibly Faculty/Staff working on advanced degrees in its totals.
Nonetheless, it’s clear from reports over the last few years that prospective BJU students are consistently choosing options that boast better value, less rules and proper accreditation over BJU. Maranatha Baptist Bible College, a direct competitor to BJU which achieved regional accreditation over 20 years ago, is blatantly going after prospective BJU students with targeted accreditation-focused ads.
We’ll include more information when BJU publishes its enrollment to the DOE. For now, a new school year opens with the same old problems facing Bob Jones University.