Many factors come into play when deciding on a college, including a variety of college rankings that appear in national publications. Several of this year’s incoming class were influenced by such rankings when they made their decision to attend Knox.
A common sentiment among the Class of 2017 was the impact of Loren Pope’s book “Colleges That Change Lives” in putting Knox on their radar.
“I found out about Knox through ‘Colleges That Change Lives’, and that was a really good indicator to me that it would be a good college,” freshman Jessica Fritts said.
Fritts also pointed to the diversity of the college, which has been acknowledged by its ranking in the Top 25 Most International Colleges and the Top 50 for Ethnic Diversity by the U.S. News and World Report.
Freshman Anastasia Gamble read another ranking from the same report, which put Knox alongside the nation’s top 266 liberal arts colleges.
“I looked online and saw that Knox was ranked 75,” Gamble said. “But that didn’t stop me from coming. I could decide for myself how well the quality of the school would be.”
However this was not the only way that students ranked the quality of the schools they looked at.
“Reputation definitely had something to do with it,” freshman Kaly Davidson said on picking her top choices. “If someone said something at school, like ‘Oh, I heard so-and-so about that and it wasn’t great,’ then I sort of put it to the bottom of my list just because other people had bad feelings about it and I didn’t want to be associated with that.”
For freshman Nashra Mahmood, Knox was recommended by a grad who told her about the Psychology Department and the 12:1 student-teacher ratio. Freshman Anthony Rogde-Hinderliter heard Knox had a great reputation in Creative Writing, his desired major. Creative Writing is Knox’s most popular major, with 14% of students in the 2012 class graduating with that degree.
Catch has won four awards in the past six years, and is only one among many literary journals and magazines at Knox.
However, some weren’t affected by ranking lists and statistics.
“I feel like when I first came here I wasn’t really looking at rankings,” Freshman Lucy Rae Dorn said. “I was just kind of trying to find a place [where] I felt at home and I felt like it was right for me. I was focusing a lot more on what people were talking about as far as academics. Not really until later did I see how high up Knox was on the ranking list [for liberal arts schools].”
Others speculated the usefulness of rankings.
“I think it depends on who ranks it and where the rankings come from, how legitimate they are,” said Davidson, who found Knox in the Princeton Review.
“I think [rankings] can help you,” Freshman Erin Frey said, “but I don’t think you should make your decision solely on rankings of colleges. Probably what is more helpful is alumni. For my parents, it was alumni who actually got careers in fields I wanted to be in and went on to do … important things.”
Ultimately, many students were drawn in by rankings, statistics and word of mouth.
“When I read it on paper I liked the international focus and I liked how they just seemed like they really worked for the student, for what you wanted. They worked for that and that was very appealing to me,” Fritts said, but added the final selling point that tipped the scales for her: “I definitely fell in love with Knox when I came here. The student body, how diverse they were, and welcoming they were–they were such a family. I just loved everyone I talked to. I could see myself here.”