The student body growth initiative did not meet its mark of increasing the campus population by 50 students this year, due in part to a smaller-than-anticipated transfer rate.
“We slightly increased the domestic first-years, but we had a drop in transfer students this year. Smaller drop in international but a drop in transfers, and as a result we did not grow the class by what we had hoped,” President Teresa Amott said.
“We didn’t lose ground, but we didn’t gain either,” she said.
Because the numbers for returning students have not been finalized yet, the exact increase of the student body is not yet known. However, Amott places the figure at five or six students.
Amott indicated that the absence of additional tuition revenue is not cause for concern.
“We didn’t expect to get 50, we budgeted for about 20 more students … but we can absorb that loss, that’s not a huge loss for us.”
According to Amott, Knox receives a net tuition revenue of around $20,000 on average per student. This figure is not made up exclusively of family contributions and includes grants, scholarships and other sources students use to pay tuition.
“If you’re down 10 students that means you’re down $200,000 in net tuition revenue, that is true,” Amott said.
“I’m not alarmed … we’re kind of steady and in a way it’s probably better to be in that situation then way down, way up, way down, way up.”
Dean of Admission Paul Steenis described transfer rates as “fickle” numbers that are hard to predict, as Knox lacks natural feeder colleges beyond the relatively small Carl Sandburg Community College. The college only received 24 transfers of the 50 it wanted to receive.
Enrollment deposits, which serve as an indicator of the size of the incoming class, stood at 425 this year. “Summer melt,” the number of students who ultimately decide not enroll despite submitting a deposit, stood at 20, which falls in line with the seven to eight percent yearly average.
However, the college did meet its mark in terms of the “bread and butter” of the school, first-year first time students. Steenis said that the 381 freshman on campus falls in line with the 375 to 390 student target range.
Amott called the number of freshman students “encouraging,” given that the number “held constant in an admissions season where a lot of schools saw big drops.”
“While we had hoped to grow, holding your own, and even going slightly higher … was encouraging to us,” she said.
Neither Amott nor Steenis saw this year as one that would result in a particularly large increase. The college has hired new counselors to recruit high school students, as well as several new athletic coaches who have not yet had a full recruiting season to develop a rapport with local schools.
“We never thought that this first year would be a big growth year anyway, because what we’re relying on is the implementation of the marketing recommendations and most of all, new website and new admissions materials,” Amott said.
Amott could not reveal the names of the marketing firms brought on to engineer the redesign because the formal letter agreement has not yet been signed. The new admissions will be in development this year and will take student input into account. Amott and Steenis foresee unveiling the new materials to market Knox to the class of 2019.
The current time frame of the growth initiative, that began last year, is four to five years.
“It was always four to five. We would have liked to have 50 more [students] on campus this year but there are schools that are 150 less. I think what that does is it probably stretches the growth initiative towards the five years rather than the four,” Amott said.
“I think in fairness it would have been better to move the needle a little further, but we didn’t drop back.”