How can small colleges survive the 21st century?

Small colleges are struggling more than ever. What can be done?

How can American small colleges survive and thrive in the 21st century?

I’m posing this question for discussion. Think about what you know of this American institution and how it is faring now.

And to spur your thoughts, read this sobering Inside Higher Ed story about problems afflicting Earlham College. Read it carefully and see which details seem especially important.

Some details that might resonate:

  1. Budget cuts have been ordered, from a $50 million budget plan down to $42 million. (The budget was $61.4 million in 2017).
  2. “Earlham has been using money from its endowment to plug a gap between the revenue it collects and larger sums it spends.”
  3. Anxiety about possible faculty cuts.
  4. Alumni worries that the college is straying from its mission.
  5. “net tuition revenue per student has been declining.… In the 2013 fiscal year, Earlham collected $15,100 in net tuition revenue per student. It collected just $12,000 per student in 2018.”
  6. Anxiety about the humanities. According to the newly acting president, “How can we make sure we can preserve the humanities as we move through the whole process?”

What can small colleges do to survive such challenges?

[Editor’s Note: This blog was originally posted on Bryan Alexander’s blog on October 20, 2018.]

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