Knox Open House July 29

<p>Anybody else going? My rising senior daughter and I will be there from Texas.</p>

<p>Wish we could go! My d has a summer job and can't get away. Please post your impressions!</p>

<p>I'm back from the open house. Overall they made a really good impression on my daughters (rising senior and rising sophomore that we dragged along against her will). I'm a Knox grad, so I had some knowledge of the school and campus before going. There were somewhere over 400 people there.</p>

<p>Knox didn't put on its best face for the open house, but instead presented a more candid look at the school. When we dropped by for an early peek the evening before, there was a dump truck parked in front of the library, with dirt tire tracks going across the sidewalk. In the middle of the quad there is an in-ground grill with a picnic table, but the table had been moved underneath some trees for mowing, and wasn't moved back. There is a half-court outdoor basketball court near the dorms, and the tattered net wasn't replaced for the event. They did move the dump truck and sweep the sidewalk before Friday morning, but generally speaking the campus we saw is the one students live on, not one that was beautified especially for the open house.</p>

<p>My daughters both liked the open space and green areas. The sidewalk layout on campus was convenient without being overpaved. (My daughter commented that another college had too many sidewalks and ruined the lawns, but Knox has many large unbroken grassy areas.) Knox has its share of flowers on campus, but there is a small area on campus near the quad that has been restored as natural Illinois prairie, and my kids thought that was unique. (Knox has a large off-campus Green Oaks Prairie that's used for biological field studies and an occasional prairie burn. The Knox sports teams are called the Prairie Fire.)</p>

<p>We trespassed into a dorm through an open window (which was closed the next day). Knox has dorms of more or less three different qualities. The best is Post Hall, which was locked, and was never shown during the open house. There are a few dorms in the quad that are a little nicer than others (like Sherwin and Niefert), which were also locked. The one they showed was one of the most primitive dorms (Longden/Drew), but it is representative of the quad dorms where the freshmen guys usually end up. (Freshman girls go mostly into Post, I think. At least they did when I was there.)</p>

<p>The dorms in the quad have cinder-block walls, tile floors, one window, two beds, two desks, two small closets, and two short, stackable 4-drawer dressers. None of the dorms are air-conditioned, but Knox doesn't start until mid-September and ends in early June. On our Thursday evening trespass we saw some rooms with three beds, but those were set up for a summer camp thing with kids, and the tour guide said all the dorm rooms are singles or doubles during the year.</p>

<p>The Open House began with Admissions Director Paul Steenis mentioning Loren Pope's CTCL book and recommending people take a look if they haven't already. President Roger Taylor spoke next, and had two main points to make: 1) relax, you will find a college that is right for you, and 2) don't go to college intent from Day One about your major, unless you are determined to be pre-med or get a teaching certificate, because those programs require an early start. Other than that, take courses that interest you and see where that leads you, then declare a major once you've sampled from a wider palette. He said that these days people change fields and careers all the time, and you want to be flexible. He quoted Gene Sperling from Thomas Friedman's book The Earth is Flat, (I'm doing it from memory here) who said that preparing for the workplace today is like training for the Olympics without knowing that sport you'll be competing in. Taylor said the same thing applies to choosing a college. In general the opening remarks didn't come off as a sales pitch at all, more like encouragement to find the school that's the best fit you you and to stay open and flexible in your academic plans.</p>

<p>We then went on a tour of campus. I already knew pretty much everything the guide told us, so I can't say how it came across to others on the tour. There were some questions about Greek life on campus. She said maybe 25% of Knox students are in a fraternity or sorority, but you often won't know who is in which one if they're in one at all. That was my experience as well when I was there. I had friends in all the fraternities but wasn't in one myself. What was new for me was the athletic center renovation. The exercise room is entirely new. Knox also has a pool, fieldhouse, really nice football field, and soccer and softball fields. There was a separate tour of the athletic facilities, but we didn't take it, we just kind of looked around on our own at the end of the day.</p>

<p>We attended a session on life outside the classroom and were surprised at how many different activities Knox students are involved in. They said that having only three classes per term means they're spinning fewer academic plates, so they're able to get involved in more outside activities. One student said in response to a question that it's more or less expected that students will become heavily involved in campus and/or local community activities outside of classes (this was generally not true when I was there a long time ago), and that doing so teaches time management. One student admitted to overextending herself, so she dropped an extracurricular, then found she had a lot of time in her schedule so she added a different one. Some of the activities these students were involved in were intramural or club sports, others were community service in some way, and others were academic-based or geek/nerd activities. Theater and choir are popular EC's, and the choir performs overseas during spring break every other year. The choir director is the same woman who was there in 1984. They also mentioned rep term, which happens every three years, where they bring in an outside theater troupe, students who choose to can take only theater classes that term, and together they put on an epic show bigger than any of the usual productions. Rep term happens every three years. When I was at Knox my English major roommate signed up for rep term. They performed The Mikado, with the choir participating as well. The opening remarks were held in Harbach Theater, which is the college's main stage. The student panels were in Kresge Recital Hall, which is a smaller venue in the same building. The Admissions offices are in the Ford Center for the Fine Arts, in the same lobby as the two theaters. (There is a third theater in the building that we forgot to check out.)</p>

<p>Lunch was a buffet line rather than the usual cafeteria food. We sat with some people from southern Illinois whose daughter was interested in creative writing, and talked about various things of interest, including which other schools we had visited. (There was a creative writing major on one of the panels, and we also talked briefly with another one that we happened to meet at the end of the day. Creative writing is one of the most popular majors at Knox.) We were joined by an admissions counselor, and later by physics prof Mark Shroyer. (Our tour guide was a physics major who is doing research with Shroyer, and she brought him by because she knew my daughter is interested in physics.) He talked about some of the the student research projects in the department, which seem to focus on the physical characterization of novel chemical species (because the department has some uncommon instrumentation, such as a Mossbauer spectrometer), but which stray into all areas of physics. Later I found this 10-year-old web page listing some student research projects: <a href="http://deptorg.knox.edu/physicsdept/Projects/Projects.htm%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://deptorg.knox.edu/physicsdept/Projects/Projects.htm&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>After lunch we went to a panel on academics. There were no real surprises here. We knew about the 3-3 schedule already. Both the professors and students said they prefer it to a semester schedule, but it's more work for the registrar. (I like it better than a semester schedule as well.) One year of a foreign language is required. About 50% of Knox students do some kind of study abroad. One of the students on the panel will do a second study abroad next year, and another one (who was not a French major) spent a full year studying in France after taking only one year of French at Knox. They talked about First-Year Preceptorial, which is a signature course required of all students (including transfers). It's a lot of reading and critical thinking and discussion, aimed mostly at seeing things from new perspectives. Someone asked history professor Penny Gold how much of her courses were discussion-based, and she said all of them, but that wouldn't be true of all professors in all departments. A student on the panel who transferred to Knox talked about being given reading assignments and then coming to class and finding that everyone had actually done the reading, which was not true at her prior university.</p>

<p>The two faculty members of the panel were asked to compare Knox to their undergraduate institutions. They both said they had a great time as undergrads and they didn't intend to disparage the schools, but the most striking differences for them were these: as an undergrad, Penny Gold was nominated for a program by one of her professors at the University of Chicago, and it came as a surprise to her because she hadn't had any real meaningful contact with that professor other than regular class time. At Knox she has much more contact with her students outside of class, and such a nomination would never come to one of her students as a surprise. Peter Schwartzman in Environmental Studies went to Harvey Mudd as a physics major and said that the culture there was very competitive whereas at Knox it's much more cooperative, and the other students are your colleagues rather than your competitors. Both of them commented on the supportive community at Knox. A creative writing major on the panel added that when a writing major wins some kind of outside award, they're always happy it went to a Knox student even if it wasn't them.</p>

<p>After that we hit the bookstore and walked campus a little by ourselves. We've visted eight schools so far, and Knox is in the top two (with Grinnell) after the open house.</p>

<p>I hope that helps!</p>

<p>thank you, this was very helpful!!! You may want to copy this and put it on campus vibe so everyone can find it easily!</p>

<p>oh one question, did you fly in and if so, how hard was it to get to the campus from the airport.</p>