The start of a new academic year is always an exciting time on a college campus, but the energy level seemed to reach new heights this year as students returned to Bridgewater College for the first day of classes on Aug. 24.
Due to the vigilance of the College’s students, faculty and staff in following social distancing and mask-wearing protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic, Bridgewater maintained in-person instruction and housed students on campus throughout the duration of the 2020-21 academic year. This academic year, a high vaccination rate for COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff gives the College the best chance of success for maintaining in-person instruction again this academic year.
In May, Bridgewater College announced a vaccine requirement for all faculty, students and staff for the fall semester (approved religious or medical exemptions are accepted). Ninety percent of BC students are vaccinated, along with 93% of faculty and staff. Any students and employees with religious or medical exemptions will undergo COVID-19 surveillance testing three times a week. Currently, masks are required indoors for students, faculty, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.
This year’s total enrollment at Bridgewater College is approximately 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students, with 405 first-year students and 50 transfer students. This cohort of new students is strong academically, with the College welcoming the largest Flory Honors class to campus in its history. Sixty new students are joining the Flory Honors program, which requires a strong academic record of a 3.8 or higher GPA from high school or a post-secondary institution.
“We’re excited to welcome our new students to campus as they begin their journey,” said Vice President for Enrollment Management Michael Post. “They are academically talented, having demonstrated success in their high schools and previous colleges/universities. That helps to show that BC continues to attract exceptional Virginia residents and students from all over, as they see the value of the connections that are created here as an Eagle.”
Of the 405 first-year students, 72 percent hail from Virginia. The remainder join the College from 18 other states. Twenty-nine percent of students in the first-year class are from historically underrepresented racial or ethnic groups, and 23% are the first in their family to attend college.
Bridgewater College announced in June 2020 that it would implement a test-optional admissions policy to aid families and students undergoing COVID-19 hardships. Eighty-two percent of the first-year class took advantage of that option and applied test-optional. The College’s admissions staff recognizes that standardized test scores are not the sole indicator of student success. The staff takes a holistic approach to the admissions process and examines every component of a student’s application, including the record of course selection, grades, GPA and strength of curriculum.
Thirty-five percent of admitted students applied early action to Bridgewater ahead of the Nov. 15, 2020, deadline. A new option for students and their families this year, the high number of early-action decision students shows that Bridgewater College is a top choice for students and their families during the college search process.
The College’s admissions staff safely conducted in-person tours for students and their families starting again in summer 2020, with staff and visitors following all COVID-19 mask, social distancing and group number guidelines. In-person tours aid in the ability to showcase to prospective students and their families the College’s unique offerings and small-community feel.