Knox College
Promoted by Knox College

Knox College: Where experiences come to life

As an economics major and environmental studies minor at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., Debora Ortiz cared deeply about animals and the environment. While her degree focused on her interests, she wanted to dive into issues she was passionate about — and that’s when she came across StartUp Term.

“I got interested in StartUp Term when I received an email from the professor, Jaime Spacco,” Ortiz says. “They had gatherings for students who were interested to get to know each other.”

Here, she met one of her teammates who shared similar interests. Together, they developed a house and pet-sitting app where users could sign up for an online platform that matches owners and sitters.

Knox College

Source: Knox College

All of this took place in a shared off-campus workspace in downtown Galesburg — an interactive space where students brainstorm their business ideas and bring them to life. Most of the time, they worked independently and set their own schedules, which Ortiz appreciated.

“It’s nice to have a professional setting where we can go and work, rather than an academic setting or a place on campus where we will develop our startups,” she says. “It adds to the experience of creating our own business from scratch.”

This unique approach reflects Knox’s motto, where education is hands-on and experiential. Opportunities abound for students to learn and grow through research or creative work, internships, community service, or study abroad opportunities. StartUp Term is one of five “Immersion Experiences,” a focused, hands-on exploration of a single field of study over a 10-week term.

In the Repertory Theatre Term, students study theatre within the experience of forming a repertory company. Working with faculty directors and designers, the students — about half of whom, typically, are theatre majors — spend an entire term researching, designing, constructing, rehearsing, and performing two full-length plays.

“For me, Rep Term showed me how to be not just a better lighting designer or a better leader in theatre, but a better leader in general, and a more empathetic person in the way I interact with people,” says student Rowan Collins.

Learning Through Doing

As part of the StartUp Term, students take on a wide range of responsibilities, including building and maintaining a project website, developing their product, evaluating potential markets for their product or service, and connecting with suppliers and customers. Ortiz gained experience compiling financial projections and handling administrative tasks like ordering business cards and opening bank accounts.

Knox College

Source: Knox College

Much of this prepares students for the real business world and trains them to be effective team players. “If you actually want to create a successful business and you want to add value to people and society, you need a team to do it — you cannot do it by yourself,” she shares.

“Since you have to collaborate with other people, you have to learn how to work with them, how to listen to them, how to come to agreement, and how to coordinate in order to create something,” she says. “And that’s something that traditional classes can’t necessarily teach you.”

Throughout StartUp Term, students are mentored by Knox faculty members who can address any questions or problems faced by budding entrepreneurs. For Ortiz, this guidance was invaluable, considering she was not exposed to business before joining StartUp Term.

With such impact, it’s no wonder why Knox was named a best value college in the 2022 US News & World Report rankings of national liberal arts colleges. Knox is also among the top liberal art colleges in Illinois and in the U.S., according to Washington Monthly magazine.

Knox is a proud member of Colleges That Change Lives (CTCL), a non-profit organization focused on helping students find their best fit. CTCL heralds the Knox experience as unique and noteworthy: “Knox delivers an elite education to a diverse group of students… Knox is a place that will take you seriously, no matter where you grew up or what kind of high school you attended… the focus is on cultivating your potential, stretching your limits, and sharpening your values so that when you leave, you are the captain of your fate and master of your soul.”

So, are you ready to kickstart an education defined by transformative experiences? Take the next step toward becoming a Knox student here.

Follow Knox College on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube