Campus / News / February 25, 2010

Populations for incoming class at max

The Knox College administration is projecting a student population for the 2010-11 school year of 1,350 degree-seeking students. However, using historical retention averages provided by registrar Kevin Hastings, the size of the school next year could be anywhere from 1,375 students to 1,395. 

There are two methods for calculating the number of new students needed in fall 2010. This year, the administration is calculating that by using a number of returning students derived by combining winter and spring term attrition (loss of students) with a special projected summer attrition number. The number of new students needed can also be calculated by using a method of predicting attrition based upon the historical average percentages of attrition in previous years in the freshman and sophomore classes. 

The Knox College administration is seeking 410 (plus or minus ten) new students at the beginning of the 2010-11 school year. At the end of this year, 320 students will have graduated (70 to 80 students more than in previous years). The graduation of 320 students and arrival of 410 new students in the fall can combine with several other factors to determine the size of the student body next year. The factors ffecting the population of Knox next year include the number of students graduating this year and the loss of students (attrition) in the first-year and sophomore classes (the classes most likely to experience appreciable loss) over the coming term and the summer. 

The population of the school next year when calculated using

the average percentage of historical attritian of the sophomore and first-year classes (yielding 56 students who will not be returning in the fall) is 1,385 (plus or minus ten), while the population when calculated using the larger summer attrition number being used by the administration (a total of 93 students) is 1,348 (plus or minus ten).

According to records kept by Hastings, the average percentages of students from the first-year and sophomore classes (the classes that experience the largest amount of attrition each year) that will not be returning in the fall are 10 percent and 6%, respectively, of the class size in the fall. At the beginning of the 2009-10 school year the first-year class had 359 students, and the sophomore class had 330 students. Adding 10 percent of the freshman class and 6 percent of the sophomore class yields 56 students total who would not be returning in fall 2010. Even this number may be too small as retention actually increased last year, according to the 2009 Institutional Self Study. 
However, the administration is calculating attrition this year by adding 18 students projected to withdraw this and next term (a quantity included in the historical percentages) to 75 students that they are expecting not to return over the summer for a total of 93. The increased projected number of students not returning over the summer is being attributed to the recession. When questioned about why 37 fewer students were being projected to return than the usual, Hastings stated that the expectation is that “the recession will have a greater effect” on the ability of students to continue attending

Knox in the coming school year. President Roger Taylor, speaking about the large projected number of new students for next year (410) stated that, “We prefer to have slightly too many students than too few. Even financial aid students pay tuition, which helps go towards our projected $2 million deficit for next year. That deficit is based on 1,350 students.” Taylor did caution that each year he has been president, the school has faced a deficit of over one million. 
 “Because of the economy, I predict that in order to recruit a class we will need to provide more financial aid. The average family contribution on the FAFSA this year is $2,200 less. We’ll meet it, but we can’t keep doing it forever,” said Taylor. According to the Institutional Self Study released in 2009, “The recent increase in enrollment was achieved at the same time that the college’s tuition discount rate was brought down from 47.6 percent to 42.1 percent.” In other words, the percentage of tuition that the college is paying has decreased in recent years, though the self study did say that they expected it to go up to 43.5% in 2009-10. 

According to the Institutional Self Study, since Taylor began at the school in 2002, the population has increased from 1,084 when he started as president to 1,384 at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year. Taylor said on February 24 that the Board of Trustees had set a goal of 1,350 students several years ago. 

Taylor, Dean of Students Xavier Romano and Director of Campus Life Craig Southern all confirm that we are currently operating at or near capacity. “The plan is to maintain 1,350 degree-seeking students so that if everyone left, we would be looking for 1,350, which I would say is at capacity and taxes facilities to the maximum,” said Taylor on February 10. “There are always complaints; students like to complain,” said Taylor in reference to complaints that the student population was too large.

Ben Reeves

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