Phi Beta Cons

How Small Liberal Arts Schools Could Change

Many small liberal arts schools are struggling financially. They don’t have enough students to benefit from economies of scale, yet they continue to provide a full plate of majors and minors and “core” courses in a dizzying array of fields.

That’s expensive and it does not differentiate one school from another, says Vic Brown, a former businessman and professor writing for SeeThruEdu. Why not create niche schools that focus entirely on instruction in fields that make sense professionally?

So, for example, he proposes a “College for Business and Policy Leadership,” which would help students understand “the mutual effects of business practice and government policy making.” Their education would lay the foundation for careers in a variety of leadership positions, in both government and business. Other schools could focus on different topics such as science or medicine, but in each case all courses would be selected because they contribute to a professional field or interrelated professional fields.

The focus on specific educational goals would keep the costs down and the “niche” would attract the appropriate students. Adds Brown:

But what about sports, theater, music, art, and other such broadening opportunities? Not here. This College is for students with very specific interests who want to pursue this type of education. Moreover, they want to benefit from affordable tuition that reflects spending strictly related to instruction, room and board – with a minimum of administrative overhead.

An austere but potentially solid model. What do you think?  

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