NORTH NEWTON — Bethel College started the 2019-20 school by welcoming the largest class of incoming first-time freshmen in more than 30 years.

“The admissions office is thrilled to help bring in our largest freshman class since 1988, pending official census,” said Eric Preheim, associate director of admissions.

As of the first day of classes, enrollment of first-year freshmen was 157, with 466 total full-time students (compared to 434 a year ago).

“The energy and excitement on campus right now is palpable,” said Andy Johnson, vice president for admissions, “much of which comes from our new students.

“During peak times of the day, the cafeteria buzzes with conversation, laughter and lines of students at popular stations such as the grill. It’s amazing to see how quickly they are adapting to life as Threshers.

“We are excited to see the mix of scholars, athletes, musicians and leaders now on campus. They represent passion and effort from the Bethel community over the past years. I am especially proud of our coaches and our admissions team for bringing in such a great group of students.”

Fall athletes began arriving on campus Aug. 10 and classes began Aug. 21. Bethel will announce its final enrollment numbers for the year on the official 20th day of class, Sept. 18.