Arts & Culture / Mosaic / Uncategorized / October 9, 2019

Looking into student population pipelines

Knox proudly shows off flags representing the many countries current Knox students and alumni come from. (Rob Nguyen/TKS).

Fall in Galesburg means asking all the new faces on campus, “So where are you from?” For what seems like most, the answer is Chicago or somewhere else close by in the Midwest.

But interestingly enough, there are many places both in the United States and internationally, nowhere near Galesburg, that send many students to Knox. Think Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, Texas, California, India, Pakistan and Vietnam.

Ben Rutter, a senior from Portland, Oregon, can attest to the large number of Oreogonians at Knox.

“It’s very strange, I don’t know how they recruit from all the way out there, but I do know when I first got here it seemed like there were maybe five people that I was in immediate personal contact with that were, like me, from Oregon,” Rutter said.

So why does Knox have such large populations of the student body from what seems like somewhat random places around the world? It actually isn’t random at all. Knox sends recruiters to locations where they have been consistently getting students for decades and setting up a footprint there.

“Colorado is the second most represented state [at Knox] and Colorado is a place where we actually have a large number of Knox alumni. I think there’s seven or eight hundred alumni in the Colorado area so they were actually able to help us with recruiting, visibility and name recognition,” Vice President for Enrollment & Dean of Admission Paul Steenis said.

Even with a number of sufficient pipelines for Knox, the school is also looking at statistics such as which countries are currently sending students abroad to the U.S., as well as digging into internal and external shifting population demographics in order to best utilize their recruiting resources.

“We’ve been for many years recognizing demographic shifts and changes in population centers. We’ve invested more in the Pacific Northwest, California, Arizona and Texas. Some of those areas where we’ve been seeing significant growth in populations in the last couple of decades,” Steenis said.

Tehreem Anwar, a junior from Lahore, Pakistan, has noticed trends in how Knox recruits international students.

“Knox will admit a bunch of Pakistanis then for the next few years lower down that rate … They try to balance things out. So this year they recruited a lot of students from Japan, but my year there were only one or two people from Japan,” Anwar said.

The benefit of personal relationships and accessible contact with the rest of campus is obviously a well known benefit for small liberal arts colleges like Knox. But this more individual attention extends before even being admitted or applying to Knox as it is Knox’s most central recruiting game plan. Rutter found out about Knox when he heard they wanted to waive his application fee after personally looking into him before he even applied.

“It must have been the school that waived my application fee … In no specific way do I look like an outstanding student except for the fact that I participated in a lot of strange things and that made its way through the grapevine to someone who waived that fee. It’s a very strange six degrees of separation that led me here,” Rutter said.

Students from all over the world have found Knox through certainly stranger ways than Rutter, but always because of some sort of personal relationship, many times creating pipelines for future students.

“A lot of our business is about the type of relationships built, it’s very personal,” Steenis said.

Steenis notes how students began to come from Venezuela because a guidance counselor who was fond of Knox moved there. Or that a choir teacher in Oregon refers many of their students to Knox. And how when Steenis was as a student at Knox in the early 80s there were over 40 Malaysian students attending Knox.

“That pipeline started with some faculty who had some scholarship and research interests in Malaysia and so they developed connections and relationships there,” Steenis said.

Another big reason for Knox drawing students from all over the world it the financial aid it gives. Both Rutter and Anwar acknowledge that as a main reason for them ending up at Knox.

“Compared to other schools, it gave a lot of financial aid. And when you are leaving home you just want to make up the costs and it makes sense this way,” Anwar said.

Both Rutter and Steenis hope current students can help extend Knox’s familial reach across the globe by personally recommending students to Knox, who will in turn waive their application fee. You can recommend a student online at

Dmitri Chambers, Co-Mosaic Editor
Co-Mosaic Editor

Tags:  admissions Oregon Pakistan Paul Steenis Students

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