Knox aims to improve declining retention rate, still above average

As Knox College plans for the next few years with their Knox 2022 plan President Teresa Amott says one area that will be focused on is retention.

Knox’s freshmen retention rate last year was 81.2 percent, which was still above the national average

Amott says if one out of every five freshmen leaves Knox after their first year that means something went wrong.

Maybe they didn’t find a faculty member that caught their interest, didn’t find a friend group, but whatever the reason, there’s also the financial commitment families make to send their student to Knox, only to have to potentially start over.

“So to me, every student we lose is actually a short story without a happy ending,” Amott tells WGIL. “I mean, it’s not always a tragedy but there can be some sadness there.”

It might be the kind of goal that can almost always be improved upon.

Amott says she would be satisfied if Knox made it to 95 percent retention because she says there’s always going to be about five percent that will discover they made the wrong choice.

Part of the high standards come from higher retention rates for Knox in the past, including last year when it was 87 percent.

But Amott says that some headwinds may come from generational factors, like students through phones and social media being more aware than ever before of what they think they’re missing out on at other schools.

Amott says it was one area of focus in the Knox 2022 plan. Knox’s average rate between 2014 and ’17 was 85 percent according to U.S. News and World Report.

“They also have more awareness of those choices. So, they’re texting with their friend from high school who’s in another institution and they think, ‘well, gee, maybe I should be there instead of here.’  In the olden days that didn’t happen. You didn’t really know what happened to your friend unless you’re writing letters — which college students have never been good at.”

The Knox 2022 plan is a 3-year list of areas in which the college would like to see improvement or challenges they would like to undertake.

Also, Knox is in the early stages of discussing a move away from their trimester scheduling system.

Amott says they think it would be some variant of a semester schedule but not much else has been decided.

She says one major challenge of the trimester schedule is that it frequently conflicts with the athletic calendar.

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