This year, Bethesda College welcomes the largest cohort the college has seen since its start in 2014.

Update: Bethesda College of Applied Learning is now known as AbleLight College. The name change went into effect Jan. 10, 2022.

Nearly 20 young adults traveled from all over the nation to kick off their collegiate experience this week at Concordia University Wisconsin.

The students are the newest members of Bethesda College of Applied Learning, an innovative two-year program for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The 19-person cohort is the largest class the college has seen since its launch in 2014.

Bethesda College, as it’s informally called, is the result of a partnership between Concordia and Bethesda Lutheran Communities, a nonprofit based in Watertown, Wisconsin, that serves people with developmental disabilities in 14 states.

Bethesda College affords enrollees many of the typical experiences of a college student: the chance to live in a residence hall, attend college athletics, and study alongside other Concordia students. The college also offers a modified curriculum that focuses on areas such as building life skills and facilitating learners’ entrance into the work force. At the end of their two years, Bethesda students graduate with a Certificate of Applied Learning.

Although Bethesda students won’t officially begin their college curriculum until the fall, this week offered a chance for the students to become acquainted with their future home-away-from-home and learn more about the expectations of the program.

It also offered the chance for a whole lot of fun. This week, Bethesda students got to take in a Chinooks ballgame at Kapco Field, enjoy an evening bonfire on Concordia’s beach, participate in a campus-wide scavenger hunt, and participate in more fun activities while orienting themselves to Concordia’s campus.

The incoming Bethesda freshmen hail from states across the U.S., including Florida, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, and Wisconsin. The new students join four returning Bethesda students who will be finishing up their second and final year at Concordia in 2021-22.


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