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Antioch College — An overflow of first students

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For the first time in recent memory, the freshman class of Antioch College is over-enrolled. While the college planned for 25 first-year students to show up next fall to the revived college, 35 students have sent in their deposits and intentions to attend the school.

“It’s exciting. The interest in Antioch is really high,” said Gariot Louima, the college’s director of communications, this week.

Between 130 and 140 young people submitted applications to the college, according to Louima. Closed by Antioch University in 2008, the college was re-opened as an independent liberal arts school by alumni in September, 2009. Since that time, college staff has been preparing to welcome its first students.

The admissions staff accepted 45 of those who applied, expecting about 25 of those to submit deposits and choose Antioch. However, the final number turned out to be higher, so college leaders decided to expand its first incoming class.

All of the first-year students will be Horace Mann fellows, and will receive free tuition. In return, the new students are taking a risk by attending a college that is still in the midst of earning accreditation, as well as revamping its programs and traditions.

“The young people who are coming this year have a heavy responsibility of creating campus life and rebuilding structures for shared governance, in addition of carrying a full class load,” Louima said. “These young people have accepted that challenge.”

According to Louima, of the first 35 students, 16 have already completed some college coursework, and most completed rigorous post-secondary education curricula, including International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement and Honors courses. One new student was a National Merit Scholar Finalist and two others were semifinalists for the award.

Sixteen of the students speak at least one foreign language, and of those, 10 speak Spanish, four speak French, one speaks Japanese, and one is fluent in Hindi, Hazaragi and Dari.

“They’re strong academically and also engaged with the world,” Louima said.

Nine new students hail from Ohio, four are from Texas, three from New York, three from Pennsylvania and three from California. Other students are from Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The group is also racially diverse, according to Louima, who said that the demographics represented are Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Middle Eastern and American Indian.

First hurdle cleared

The first hurdle on the long and complicated path to accreditation has been cleared, as the college was notified last Friday that the chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents granted provisional authorization to Antioch College to offer bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees.

“This is a significant step forward that paves the way toward accreditation. It’s moving the college forward,” said Hassan Rahmanian, dean of curriculum, assessment, planning and interdisciplinary ­learning.

The official news from the OBR chancellor was not a surprise, as the peer review team that visited the campus in January gave a positive recommendation for the college. In its recommendation, the team stated that Antioch College “meets the chancellor’s standards for undergraduate programs.”

The authorization continues through Dec. 31, 2014.

The OBR approval allows the college to submit its application for accreditation to the North Central Association, the regional accrediting agency. The process of accreditation is complex, and next involves receiving initial approval from an NCA committee, then submitting a self-study to be followed by an NCA site visit to the college. If all goes well, the college could be officially accredited soon after its first class of students graduates, so that their coursework will receive accreditation retroactively.

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