Southwestern Seminary’s sterling reputation, nurturing environment and supportive faculty have combined to call 343 new students to enroll for the spring 2018 semester. This is the largest incoming spring class in over 10 years.

Over the last several years, an average of roughly 250 new students have entered each spring semester, and roughly 500 new students have entered each fall semester, says Kyle Walker, vice president for student services. “We were confident that our innovation and the hard work of the Admissions office would pay off this spring semester with a large incoming class,” he says. “However, we did not know it was going to be this big.”

The seminary’s robust recruiting efforts were a significant factor. “We continue to pursue the most effective ways to connect with prospective students and work with them through the application process,” Walker says. “Under the leadership of our director of admissions, Max Stabenow, the Admissions office made several strategic changes that made a big impact this year.”

“Every department worked together within their various spheres of influence to build a historic spring enrollment,” Stabenow says. “The full force of Student Services looks forward to capitalizing on the momentum of the spring semester in order to build a phenomenal fall incoming class.”

An array of life experiences brought new incoming students to Southwestern. Saleem Bhayani, a Master of Theological Studies student, feels blessed to study God’s Word “at the best seminary in the world.” A former Muslim from Pakistan, she received a bachelor’s degree in business administration and accounting from the University of Karachi and then was called to Christ and to Christian study.

“I spoke to a couple of people who went to different seminaries, but they all wanted to go to Southwestern Seminary,” she says. After attending orientation at Southwestern, she decided to enroll.

“Even though I am taking Biblical Hermeneutics online, I feel like I am taking this class in person,” she says. “I really enjoy the class and Dr. [Jim] Wicker’s style of teaching, which keeps everybody together and engaged regardless of the knowledge of the student.”

Perry Garrett, a Ph.D. student in church history, says he chose Southwestern “because of the increasingly astute Ph.D. program in early Christian studies under the oversight of Dr. D. Jeffrey Bingham and Dr. Stephen Presley, as well as the faithful theological heritage of the institution within the Southern Baptist Convention.” When he began the application process, Garrett continues, “I was received with Christian hospitality and grace, and I continued experiencing this welcoming spirit while on campus recently for seminars and events.”

Tony Grant, a Master of Divinity student, was enrolled at the Guadalupe Baptist Theological Seminary School in San Antonio until it shut its doors three years ago due to lack of student enrollment. “After exploring school after school and witnessing the high cost of tuition, I said, ‘Forget it,’” he says. He reached out for guidance on social media through an online minsters’ group.

“There were many responses, but one stood out, which was Southwestern,” he said. Based on the recommendation of a Southwestern alumnus, he toured the campus. “I must say I was very impressed and loved what I saw and experienced,” he says. “I applied the same day.”

“I thank God for these students that He has ultimately sent to Southwestern,” says Kyle Walker. “I know from experience the level of instruction and training Southwestern is going to provide.

“It thrills me more than I can say to see God calling out men and women and directing them our way to be equipped to fulfill the call on their lives. By coming to Southwestern, these men and women will be grounded in God’s Word and prepared to reach the world.”