What Unifies the Class of 2021
New student move-in day is one of the great days on Beloit’s academic calendar. Lots of blue and gold; lots of help from staff, faculty, and fellow students moving clothing, electronics, and mini-refrigerators into the upper reaches of Peet, Chapin, and Aldrich; lots of golf carts darting around with more people and stuff. Two weeks later, members of the class of 2021 are already fully engaged. Faculty confirm my sense that they are Beloiters, doing what 171 classes of Beloiters have done before them—they have started to make this campus their own.
This fall’s new student move-in day had a uniquely memorable twist. In mid-afternoon, Student Affairs staff passed around a couple hundred pairs of dark glasses as Chapin Quad filled with students and family members who watched the moon cast a shadow over 80 percent of the sun for a few dusky minutes. Beloit will again come fairly close to the next U.S.-centric total eclipse seven years from now, but that will occur in April, not during new student move-in day. The near total solar eclipse on August 21 certainly gives the class of 2021 a common point of reference no other class in the 21st century will have (unless we decide to move both the college and the start date for the academic year—unlikely).
But another, more profound fact unifies the class of 2021. Nearly all—98 percent—of the members of the class received some type of gift aid. That is, almost every single member of the incoming class is benefitting directly from scholarships made possible by those who have demonstrated their belief that this college can and will change lives.
This fact also nurtures my optimism that despite surveys, polls, and commentary pointing to a decline in the perceived value and necessity of a college education among the public, there are still plenty of people eager to invest in it. Those who do see the value in an education rooted in authentic and meaningful faculty-staff-student relationships, built around a shared mission centered on common learning, careful listening, generous hearing, close reading, courageous reflection; the kind of education that demands students and faculty become ever more sophisticated at making the boundaries between the classroom and the world beyond it increasingly porous. This sophistication has been the signature pedagogy of Beloit College for decades. The kind of education that is increasingly recognized as the most effective, the most substantive, the most—yes—practical education we know about.
Here is an equation that is really, really easy to understand: Scholarships to Beloit College = Access to a Beloit College education. Field experiences, summer research, community partnerships, off-campus programs, honors terms, and Venture Grants all wrapped around coursework and reflection and the application of knowledge and faculty and staff and other students—friends, confidants—who give meaning and breadth and depth to the whole thing. Faculty and staff living and learning side by side with students challenging, questioning, caring, and celebrating. It is a remarkable place, leading those with access to it towards remarkable lives. Scholarship gifts to Beloit College are an investment well-made.
From here at Chapin’s desk,
—President Scott Bierman