Nour Al-Sheikh first started dreaming about studying at Earlham College in 2019 as an international baccalaureate student at the United World College campus in Germany.
“The international admissions counselor from Earlham came to a college fair at my school,” Al-Sheikh remembered. “One of the reasons I really liked Earlham back then was that it was a small, close-knit, international community. It reminded me of my community at UWC.
“Earlham also focuses on hands-on learning, not just what you learn in the classroom,” he said. “That’s how I learn best.”
Little did he know at the time, his path to Earlham would be complicated by a global pandemic and several failed attempts to get approved for a visa to study in the United States.
“I was denied for a visa four times and I was starting to lose hope,” said Al-Sheikh, who is a Syrian native but now calls Turkey home. “I couldn’t let go of Earlham. It felt like a treasure to me.”
After applying for a visa for a fifth time, Al-Sheikh’s fortunes finally changed. Today, about four years after first discovering Earlham, he begins classes on campus as a member of the Class of 2027.
“I’m getting into the community and love it so far,” said Al-Sheikh who plans to pursue a major in computer science. “Many of my friends from UWC also came to Earlham. Seeing people who were a year behind me in high school and now are college juniors and seniors has been an experience for sure. I’m just so grateful to be here now.”
The Class of 2027 is comprised of 229 first-year and transfer students from 31 states and 22 countries and continues Earlham’s reputation as a national leader for excellence in academics.
The Class has an average grade point average of 3.7. Among those students reporting a class rank, 48 percent finished in the Top 20 percent of their class.
Thirty percent of students are among the first in their families to attend College and 11 percent followed in the footsteps of at least one of their parents by attending Earlham.
“This is a place that draws people together, where everyone has the opportunity to belong,” said Hazel Vernon, a first-year student from Bellingham, Washington, who discovered Earlham with the help of an application process adviser. She plans to pursue the 3+1 education program and earn the Bachelor of Art in English and the Master of Arts in Teaching in four years.
“I knew that I wanted to get a bit away from home,” Vernon said. “I think that a large part of the college experience is to explore things that are entirely new, alongside different types of people, in a different environment from what I already know. I felt as though I could do that best by going out of state at a place like Earlham.”
After participating in new student orientation and Earlham’s August Wilderness pre-orientation program, she thinks she made the right choice.
“I am very happy and grateful to have found this place,” she said.
‘An outstanding, inspiring class’
Tenacious. Accomplished. Creative. Resilient. These are just a few of the words that come to mind when describing the Class of 2027, said Erin Hutchinson, assistant vice president for enrollment management.
“This is a truly outstanding group of new students,” Hutchinson said. “Not only are these students academically talented, they also inspire us with their commitment to making the world a more just and equitable place.”
Hutchinson notes that the fall entering class includes innovators, leaders and others who have successfully challenged the status quo to improve the lives of their friends and neighbors. That includes Eagle Scouts and Gold Award recipients with the Girl Scouts; the co-founder of a venture that uses modeling software and 3D printing to offer custom jewelry design; and another who secured the backing of the ACLU in a successful lawsuit to protect the rights of LGBTQ-plus students at their school.
“These students are all extraordinary models for good in their communities,” Hutchinson said. “We are so happy to call them Earlhamites and can’t wait to follow them along in their future pursuits on campus.”
New majors, sports to debut
New academic majors in engineering and accounting, and the inaugural season for softball will bring added excitement to the 2023-24 academic year.
The new engineering major will build upon the College’s traditional strengths in physics, computer science, mathematics, environmental sustainability and the liberal arts to create a distinctive curriculum. The new accounting major, which is part of Earlham’s expanded business program, is designed to provide a pathway to becoming a CPA and to prepare students to thrive in a wide variety of future career opportunities, whether that be a fraud investigator for the Internal Revenue Service or the chief financial officer of a social enterprise.
Seventeen students have been recruited for the inaugural season of a revived softball program, which begins competition in spring 2024. The team will play at a new field, which is now under construction on south campus.
“I am so excited to watch the progression of our field and facilities,” said Morgan Cooksey, a first-year softball recruit from Williamsport, Indiana, who plays to major in media and communications. “I am also excited to better get to know my teammates and to show everyone what we are capable of as a team — not just as softball players but as students and people in general.”
Cooksey is part of a landmark recruiting season for student-athletes. About 52 percent of the Class of 2027 identify as student-athletes.
“I picked Earlham because I liked that about half of the incoming students here were athletes so I knew everyone would be accommodating and understanding of our busy schedules. I also chose Earlham because I liked the idea of being a part of something new. I can’t wait to get started.”