Liberal Arts Colleges: Thriving, Surviving, or Endangered?

Overview

Private liberal arts colleges are among the oldest of American institutions. Yet their history has been surrounded by concern about their ability to survive. Some see these small colleges as increasingly irrelevant in a world marked by growing demand for technical training. Others wonder how private colleges, many with few students and high tuitions, can compete successfully against heavily subsidized public colleges and universities. David Breneman, an economist and former college president, confronts the ...
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Overview

Private liberal arts colleges are among the oldest of American institutions. Yet their history has been surrounded by concern about their ability to survive. Some see these small colleges as increasingly irrelevant in a world marked by growing demand for technical training. Others wonder how private colleges, many with few students and high tuitions, can compete successfully against heavily subsidized public colleges and universities. David Breneman, an economist and former college president, confronts the renewed concern about the future of liberal arts colleges. He explains that as higher education emerged from the relatively expansive years of the 1980s into the economically distressed 1990s, many college administrators faced - and continue to face - great uncertainty about enrollment and funding. Can these small, labor-intensive colleges thrive, or will they wither? Will families be able - and willing - to pay the costs required for this type of education? Will the drift toward technical and professional studies doom colleges devoted to seemingly less practical study of the arts and sciences? In this book, Breneman explores these and many other educational and economic issues. He provides a detailed analysis of more than 200 liberal arts colleges and describes the recent financial and curricular history of many of these schools. He explains how they have survived and how many have prospered despite severe competitive pressures. Breneman shows why the universe of liberal arts colleges - which includes such members as women's colleges, black colleges, religiously affiliated colleges, and highly selective colleges - have had diverse experiences and confront different futures. Liberal Arts Colleges includes sketches of twelve colleges that provide insight into both the shared and distinctive concerns of a varied but representative set of liberal arts colleges. The author weaves these specific cases into a final chapter on the prospects for liberal arts colleges
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Editorial Reviews

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The author, an economist and former college president, explores the purposes and definition of liberal arts colleges; their financial history from the 1950s through the 1980s; enrollment, tuition, and financial aid; and trends in revenue and expenditure. He looks specifically at 12 colleges and offers data on some 200, identifying problems that lie ahead and offering recommendations. Paper edition (unseen), $11.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780815710622
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Pages: 184

Table of Contents

1 Introduction 1
Why Study Private Liberal Arts Colleges? 3
Defining Liberal Arts Colleges 11
Economic Issues Facing Liberal Arts Colleges 15
Organization of the Book 18
2 A Brief Financial History 20
The 1950s and 1960s - Golden Years? 21
The 1970s - New Problems, New Policies 25
The 1980s - A Decade of Surprises 30
3 Enrollment, Tuition, and Financial Aid 36
A Microeconomic Theory of the Private College 36
Applications, Acceptances, and Enrollments 51
Net Tuition Revenue and Unfunded Student Aid 56
Net Tuition Revenue and Expenditures 62
4 Trends in Revenue and Expenditure 66
Change during Three Decades 67
Change during the Past Decade 69
5 Site Visits 86
The Twelve Colleges 86
Site-Visit Findings 89
6 The Future 116
Prospects for Twelve Colleges 118
Problems That Lie Ahead 134
Recommendations 135
App. A. The 212 Colleges in the Study 138
App. B. Colleges Excluded and Description of Williams College Data File 162
App. C. A Microeconomic Model 164
App. D. Categories of Revenue and Expenditure 167
App. E. Administrators Interviewed 171
Index 175
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