RD - 2019

Son received an email today from Knox admissions inviting him to apply. Knox said they would waive app fee and let him know of a decision in about a week. I’m assuming they sent him the email in an effort to boost the school’s rankings, as do so many schools this late in the game, but whatever. My son is leaning toward attending an LAC but Knox wasn’t even on his radar. As for LAC’s, he’s applied to Reed and St. John’s College, and I am wondering how those schools compare to Knox. Performed an NPC on Knox and was pleasantly surprised.

Knox is a very nice liberal arts college. I visited with my high-school senior last autumn, and was very impressed. In an age when so many colleges are trending toward the “college as career training” philosophy, Knox maintains a traditional liberal arts “college is life expanding” philosophy. Everyone we met was super nice, and the campus, while small, cultivated a strong sense of community. I’m not sure my kid will enroll in Knox (waiting on some other college decisions, and what the financial alternatives will be), but in many ways I think Knox has a great environment and would deliver academically. So, I’m glad it was on our list, and would recommend to anyone.

My eldest daughter recently graduated from Knox in physics and computer science. My youngest, a senior is also interested in Reed and waiting to see if she will be accepted. For what is worth, here are my thoughts. Knox and Reed are similar in vibe, but Reed seems like a Knox on steroids - tougher academics, quirkier students, and opinions/values tend to be more liberal. I definitely think your child will need to bring his/her “A” game to Reed. It will be a hard work load, but also stimulating. My impression from students we talked to at Reed was that it can be difficult to find “balance” at times. If you want to be successful there you need to place your academics at the forefront. I know that one of my concerns for my child about Reed is that she is not so overwhelmed that it stops her from experiencing other things. Of the two, Reed is definitely stronger in the sciences, but Knox is no slouch either. Knox is currently revamping their science building and will have new facilities in another year or two. Knox has a great creative writing program and their school newspaper has often won national awards for their writing pieces.

Cities - Portland definitely wins over Galesburg. It’s big vs. small, but Galesburg does have its small town charms too. Portland will be rainy and cold. You will experience all 4 seasons in Galesburg. Portland definitely has better food, social life, and surrounding activities. That being said, the person who interviewed my child at Reed was a senior and said he only had the time and the money to go off campus 2-3 times in his time there so far. In general, we found Portland to be a more expensive area for the extras. While my daughter was at Knox she said there was so much stuff happening on campus that she rarely left the “Knox Bubble” as it’s known.

My eldest daughter got a great education at Knox. She blossomed there in so many ways. She now lives in D.C. Her employer has her contact Knox each spring to see who might be interested in coming to work for his company. He feels Knox is a hidden gem. Most of his hires come from University of Virginia in Charlottesville or Virginia Tech, but he has been very impressed by his Knox hires. My daughter’s friends (most graduated in the sciences) who went to grad school were accepted into top tier grad schools - Yale, University of WI, Stanford, Georgetown, to name a few.

If my youngest gets into Reed I know she’ll get a great education there too. The main reason she didn’t consider Knox was because her older sister went there. She wants to be different from her sister.

It’s about what’s the best fit for your child and which one will help him/her to grow best. My youngest (current senior) is a really strong student with great stats. I thought she would apply to several of the Ivies as her stats met their profile. She knew she wanted something smaller and more intimate. When I pushed her on it her comment was, “Mom, I might make it in but they’re not me. I don’t want to go there just because of the name. You’re always telling me just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” Ok, point taken, I had to back off. And for what it’s worth, my cousin’s child goes to St. John’s and loves it. She feels its strengths are in literature and writing. Her plans are to go to law school after her she finishes her undergraduate degree.

Ultimately, you want your child to be successful and happy in college. This will happen at Knox, Reed, or St. Johns. Good luck!

@InDebtForever and @Was2be Thank you so much for your well-written and helpful responses. It’s great to hear about other parents who are focused on helping their children choose a college that’ll be a great fit for them rather than blatantly push them toward a specific school because of our own prejudices and/or biases.

My son, too, has the academic bonafides to be a strong applicant for an Ivy League school, but prefers the smaller LACs, saying they better fit his personality and career goals. Though he did apply to a couple of the smaller Ivies just because.

I am a Knox grad and have written a long summary in the current thread “Knox vs Allegheny” in the “College Search & Selection” area.

@Hapworth I read your entry at “Knox vs Allegheny” with interest, and would like to get your insight. My daughter has been accepted to Knox, Kenyon, and Carleton. We visited Knox last fall (see above), and really enjoyed it. We also visited Kenyon last summer, but my daughter’s first experience at Carleton will be next week at the admitted students program (she is also revisiting Kenyon this week… we could not find a good or affordable time to visit Knox again). My daughter feels that Knox wouldn’t be as rigorous academically as Kenyon or Carleton, and this is a top priority for her (she wishes to major in English and/or Creative Writing). I think this view comes from a) prestige of the schools (i.e., US News rankings, etc.) and the average GPA/SAT scores of current students. So, I guess what I’m asking is how would you compare the academic rigor between Knox and these other schools? Thanks for your insight.

@Was2be I was going to send a private message, but I’ll post here in case other people come here.

Okay, so I was also an English/Creative Writing major. I went on to earn an MA and started work on a PhD (on fellowship), but sadly life threw some things my way, and I didn’t finish. But, yeah, Knox is honestly one of the best undergraduate schools for creative writing. Here’s a link that profiles Knox and two other schools (Oberlin and Sarah Lawrence): https://www.pw.org/content/workshop_revolution_sensibility . It’s from 2005, but it still does a nice job describing the program. Sadly, Robin Metz, who was my professor for three classes, passed away this past winter. He was a legend at Knox.

If you do a Google search for “Best undergraduate creative writing programs,” you’ll get a lot of noise. A lot of schools listed do not really have creative writing majors. They may have great single classes, but for anyone who is interested in the creative writing major, the number of schools are limited.

Listen, Carleton and Kenyon are prestigious schools, and though I think that brand name and prestige are overrated, it is not as if brand name and prestige have no value. I would imagine that the rigor at Carleton and Kenyon are perhaps a bit more intense, but these are gradations that are not significant. Carleton and Kenyon have the luxury of cherry-picking mostly A students with high test scores. Most Knox students are high achievers and are creative; most could handle the work at any school in the country. But there will be that 20% for whom Knox is a real challenge. I actually liked that because I did not insist on being surrounded by only high achievers in high school. Knox is not selective enough to turn away B/B+ students. Knox is also committed to admitting low-income students, first-generation students, students who may not have had strong college prep classes, etc.

But I don’t think that the classes at Knox would be easy, and your daughter could A) make sure she chooses courses wisely, and, B . ) make the class more challenging for herself if she feels the class is too easy (it’s not like professors wouldn’t notice her effort and respond). But consistently finding the academics at Knox underwhelming would be rare, I think. Hopefully, a current Knox student will stumble upon this thread and comment about her/his current situation.

Finally, when I attended Knox, there were students who turned down more prestigious schools, though usually there was a reason (financial aid was too good to turn down was typical). One young woman hated Vanderbilt and left after a year, but her father taught at Knox so she enrolled where Dad taught (and got to attend for free, of course). Another was a ski bum whose father taught at Colorado College (see a trend?). When I visited, I was impressed when one young woman simply preferred Knox to Reed. In general, though, Knox occasionally enrolls the student who simply prefers Knox, but usually Knox gets some students who aimed for Grinnell, Macalester, and Carleton but didn’t get in to those schools (or got in but couldn’t afford them).

Let me know if you have any other questions.