SIOUX CENTER, Iowa (KELO) — Students are back on college campuses across KELOLAND, and one smaller university is seeing larger enrollment numbers this semester.

Dordt University welcomed a record number of undergraduate and graduate students to campus, 1,858 in total this fall. This exceeds the record set back in 2021 of 1,786.

Dordt senior, Bethany TenHaken, has noticed a steady increase in the number of students returning to campus each year.

“I think each year it’s been gradually growing so this year doesn’t seem so much bigger, but I can tell I worked a little bit in student services this summer so I can tell just with housing that things are getting more full and there are more bodies on campus which is a fun thing to have,” said TenHaken.

This year, there is not only a record number of students in total, but the number of undergraduate students living on campus rose to 1,460 which is nearly 60 more than last year.

“So, for the last three to five years we’ve seen a very increase in students of about 2% to 4% enrollment increase every single year,” said Greg Van Dyke, director of admissions.

What makes Dordt unique from other campuses is not only their religious foundation, but they also form a strong community by requiring students to live on campus until they are 22 years old.

“You know you start off like as a freshman, you see these people and you kind of can grow with them through those four years when you’re on campus, you know you are seeing them coming to and from class, you’re seeing them at events and everything so you can kind of deepen those relationships and form those,” said Karly Gustafson, senior.

Welcoming more faces to campus and building a strong community among their peers.

“Even the start of this year like we have chapel every Wednesday and I’ve noticed it’s always been like very full each time which is good to see and I think Dordt does a good job of engaging students and doing diverse things to get people engaged and keep them engaged so it’s definitely fun to see all the students come out for it,” said Gustafson.

“It’s made me be able to meet a lot of new people and people that I otherwise would have never come in contact with,” said TenHaken.

Not only did Dordt see record numbers this year, they were also the highest-ranked university in Iowa for 2022-2023 according to the Regional Universities Midwest ranking by U.S. News and World Report Best Colleges.