BJU Admits Declining Enrollment, Claims it as a Strategy in Facebook Post

In a comment made on its Alumni Facebook page today, BJU confirmed the assertions made by this site (and many others) that its enrollment has decreased significantly in recent years, and that the decrease signals a paradigm change for the school.

Direct link to the comment thread here.


This remarkable admission does put an interesting spin on the facts, however: the school, or at least this particular page administrator, suggests that the reduced number of students is intentional. It’s not clear by what process BJU has “become more selective in finding the right fit students,” as its never been known for turning down any student who confesses Christianity and has tuition money in-hand. Further, BJU has certainly hinted, however tentatively, at “change” in recent years, but the changes all seem aimed at reaching out to more students (while desperately trying to not alienate its more conservative base), not fewer. This attempt to explain away its eroding student body is an old one, however, going all the way back to this 1994 video in which Bob Jones III predicts that the school “will get a lot smaller,” and offers similar explanations to those seen above almost 20 years later.

It’s unusual to see a BJU social media page making this kind of detailed explanation, and, buried in the comments as it is, it probably won’t see much exposure. It’s not known whether the page admins had the blessing of any higher-ups at the school or whether this is just one person’s opinion.


10 thoughts on “BJU Admits Declining Enrollment, Claims it as a Strategy in Facebook Post

  1. Anson Mills

    I don’t know how one could tell if BJU were being more selective in admissions without proprietary information. Background checks are so much easier to conduct these days, not to mention the existence of say Facebook pages that might suggest the applicant wasn’t a “right fit” for the institution.

    1. bjunews Post author

      You’re correct, there’s no direct proof that BJU is not rejecting more students than before.

  2. G. Primm

    Seriously, what Christian or priviate university / college, or high school, for that matter, is not experiencing declining enrollment? Maranatha has declined to a total enrollment equal to the incoming freshman class of BJ. Pillsbury closed, Northland is in bad financial situation and there are staff members who are not being paid. One in PA announced it is closing after this year.

    One of the issues that impacts these schools is their established purpose; service to the Lord and following His guidance into whatever He has. In my opinion that limits what others would look at as the “donor” base; it is not and never will be equal to that of the public or private universities that do not emphasize service to the Lord. Christian school teachers, evangelists, missionaries, etc. are not huge income generating posiitons, and those serving the Lord in that way are doing right. Public universities have endowments, gifts from Alum, athletic team income, research grants, patent income, support from their state governments (state of IL which is broke, yet supports the Univ. of IL).

    BJ, as are other like-minded colleges / universities and high schools are all being impacted; accredited or not. It is a reality of the current economic market, being felt by many institutions, companies and families of all faiths. If this were the 80’s and schools were experiencing declining enrollment that would be news. In this economy no one should be suprised by any of the schools experiencing decreased enrollment. It is a fact of life and should not be construed as anything more than that, in my opinion.

    1. bjunews Post author

      “Seriously, what Christian or priviate university / college, or high school, for that matter, is not experiencing declining enrollment?”

      We could start with North Greenville University, which unlike many of the comparisons you made is quite relevant when discussing BJU. NGU appeals to roughly the same ideological and geographical demographics as BJU and is doing a booming business while BJU is not. Accreditation and a lack of draconian rules are surely two big reasons why. Your list of other Fundamentalist schools who are failing and closing does nothing to argue that BJU’s similar struggles are unimportant or not worth noting.

      “Public universities have endowments, gifts from Alum, athletic team income, research grants, patent income, support from their state governments…”

      Look closely and you’ll see that BJU enjoys all of the above. Also, if these are excuses for BJU’s decline why does the school continue to build and spend like it’s in its heyday?

      “BJ, as are other like-minded colleges / universities and high schools are all being impacted; accredited or not.”

      This is simply not the case. Having proper accreditation and sensible student life policies are vitally important for BJU’s survival, as the school itself has admitted. More than that, they’re the right thing to do for both current and future students.

      Your point that many universities are in trouble in 2013 is a valid one. But BJU has historically been able to overcome such challenges because its brand has been (somewhat) immune to them: it demonized accreditation to its base, but that’s no longer convincing. The rising cost of education means BJU’s lack of value as compared to other schools, always a weakness, is now potentially fatal. Those factors are more than worthy of analysis, on this site as they have been elsewhere for years.

      1. G. Primm

        Well, I don’t want to get into some “one upping”, but NGU was not mentioned in the article, as I recall. What was were related universities, therefore my response and examples. There are always exceptions, but my point remains; sister institutions of like practice are declining and closing.

        On the income from other sources, BJU may have some, but nothing compared to what I was making my point. I have the opportunity to see the financials of those I mentioned; no guessing or surmising. You have no idea the amount of income generated from other sources. I do, I am in finance and have seen it. BJ type of institutions do not have that. I make money, just as Bill Gates does, but I do not make what he does. My point was the amount. There are institutions that could charge no tuition because of the income generated by their investments / endowments/ patents, etc. But they do.

        My points were based on experience, therefore I made them. I do not have an agenda, neither can I argue against those who do. The best thing for Christian high schools is vouchers; in IN the Christian schools are experiencing enrollment increases because vouchers can be used. In other states where there are no vouchers and students have no choice, enrollment is declining because of the economy. People are having to make choices whereas 10 years ago they could afford it.

        Hope the points are considered. Every Christian high school in IL is suffering. There is no accreditation issue in high school. It is merely a matter of cash. Thanks. Now, back to important things!!!

    2. DHanson

      Lack of regional accreditation — BJU grads having fewer children and sending a smaller percentage of them to BJU are the main causes of declining enrollment. (Declining enrollment has caused more declining enrollment when majors and programs have to be eliminated because these become uneconomical without enough students in classes.)

  3. billnotfundy

    I graduated from Jonestown and have three kids in college right now…I’m broke as a chicken. None of them go to my or my wife’s Alma Mater. It baffles me why anyone would send their kid to a non-accredited university. They almost kicked me out my Sr. year for nonsense infractions, if I hadn’t bowed and kissed the ring I would have had to start over at another school or waited out a year and then kiss their butts. In my opinion this place is shrinking because they forget that the students they treat badly graduate, get married, have kids and send those kids to college. They are reaping what they have sown for so many years.

  4. Dave Light

    I graduated BJU over 40 years ago. Newly saved, I started as a “preacher boy”. I was married with one child and worked full-time as a “town student”. I changed major after the first year after I became acquainted with the evangelistic theology and practices of Jack Hyles, Jack VanImpe, John R. Rice and many others who laid on the heavy guilt if you didn’t turn in a “good” evangelistic report from the weekend in downtown Greenville, meaning “number saved”. The highest performers were praised in preacher boys class by the visiting evangelist and/or by Dr. Stenholm. The rest of us were admonished for possibly letting someone go to hell, which would clearly be my fault in God’s eyes. That belief is disgusting to me.

    I did appreciate the MANY good teachers I had such as Dr. Herdklotz, and Dr. Paul Brown who stand out in my memory as Godly men who truly helped me learn and graduate. I always felt that Jones, Jr and Jones III were arrogant. I had recent hope for Stephen Jones, but is he still too much a “Jones”?

    The occasional meetings with Dr. Edwards for “hair check” failure at the chapel door, and the discipline committee for missing classes due to illness w/o Dr. excuse (couldn’t afford Dr. to diagnose flu), were aggravations, but probably not as bad as the current surveillance state in the US, although similar. Its about control of the people…. or the students. Maybe that has changed since I was there, but I doubt it. Draconian rules and “my way or the highway” attitude should be part of the honesty in advertising by BJU. Or a statement that things have changed. In either case, the best advertisement – word of mouth – is clearly the most effective and that is perhaps taking its toll on politically right-wing fundamentalist Christian colleges like BJU and Cedarville.

    Religious zealots, fundamentalist extremists and closed minded non-thinking Christians who accept everything they are told, who fear to “question authority”, or simply ask “why”, are some of the reasons that fundamentalist Christian University enrollments are declining. People are waking up. They want to know truth. They want to be challenged to investigate and understand what or why Jesus said what he did and why he behaved the way he did and why he said, “follow-me, learn from me” instead of “its my way or the highway”. He even allowed questioning authority and encouraged it. He rebuked questioners at times, but he was compassionate, understanding and forgiving. There is no place for religious extremism in this world

    I have been involved in church leadership and teaching for many years. My theology and practice has changed over the years. I now preach a Jesus who came with light and truth and love to primarily save us from ourselves and our darkness. He became our “God within”, to we can go in an instant and from whom comes the real “knowing” of truth and peace. It is this light and love that will, and is changing the world, not the profiling and bombing and destruction of those with different religious or political views than ours.

    In closing, I have been fortunate to have very good jobs over my secular career. Thanks to good BJU profs in non-theological disciplines. No thanks to the unaccredited “BJU” name, theology or legalistic control system. Thanks much to Clemson University and my Master’s Degree.

    Everything in life is “for a purpose”, even if just for contrast and comparison purposes.

    Peace and LIght!

  5. John Brown

    “Seriously, what Christian or priviate university / college, or high school, for that matter, is not experiencing declining enrollment?”

    Liberty University. They have capped on-campus enrollment for the last few years to insure the growth doesn’t outpace quality of education. Currently in a $250 million (last figure I heard) and growing building campaign. Figured out sometime ago for the most part not to focus on “preference” as doctrine and to accept believers from outside the narrow strictures of a tiny minority sect of Christianity.

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