Campus / News / January 26, 2011

53 students depart, exit polls implemented

Since the beginning of the 2010 fall term, 52 degree-seeking students have left Knox, a slightly higher number of departures than usual. According to Knox College Registrar and Professor of mathematics Kevin Hastings, the school population was 1,375 at the beginning of the 2010 fall term and there are now 1,323 degree-seeking students at Knox. Thus far, extensive exit polling of those students has yet to show a discernable pattern or single cause for their departure.

“We lost a little more than normal between fall and winter this year,” Hastings said, referring to the drop in students since fall. While the school started the year with 1,375 students (25 more than President Roger Taylor’s target of 1,350), the number has dropped gradually over the intervening term and break.

Twenty-six students left because they graduated, while 29 students returned from leave or were new students beginning mid-year. However, this did not maintain population parity as eight students withdrew in the fall and another 47 left between the end of fall term and now.

“There are a variety of reasons [why students leave]. Certainly some are academic reasons—ten to a dozen being asked to leave. Others just deciding ‘Knox is not right for me.’ Some for physical or psychological reasons, some financial,” Hastings said.

Hastings said that they were still trying to get the broad picture of why students had left in such great numbers.

Speaking about the loss of students, Taylor said, “I don’t think it is extreme. Since I’ve been here there’s never been a discernable pattern for why people leave…For some, unfortunately, it’s financial. Some want a bigger school, some want something more vocational.” Taylor went on to confirm that he was not “overly concerned” about departure of students.

In an attempt to ascertain the causes of the loss of students, Associate Dean of the College Lori Haslem has been reviewing the extensive exit polls given to each student who decides to leave Knox. Haslem put together the poll, since no records were kept about student’s reasons for leaving Knox prior to her holding the position of Associate Dean.

The exit poll asks the departing students their reasons for leaving, broadly defined in five categories (academic, medical, financial, personal/family and social), and then tabulates this with any additional information that has been brought to her attention. In reviewing this set of polls, “No single area [reason for leaving] predominates,” Haslem said.

“There are a range of reasons why people leave. Six or seven were dismissed for grades, five told to take leave for grades; I don’t think that’s more than usual, which leads me to believe that there are other reasons,” Haslem said.

Some of the primary things that the poll tries to discover are what kind of use students have made of academic resources such as the CTL if they left for academic reasons, or what kind of use the student made of counseling if they left for psychological reasons.

Haslem added that the departures were spread across all classes and that many of the students were planning to return.

Haslem feels confident that the Dean’s office is on track with the issue.

“I feel good just knowing that we are starting to keep track of this…to know what we do to keep them here,” she said.

Ben Reeves

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