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 and concludes that some colleges are thriving, most colleges have survived, and only a few are endangered
Includes bibliographical references and index
A brief financial history -- Enrollment, tuition, and financial aid -- Trends in revenue and expenditure -- Site visits -- The future -- Appendixes -- Tables -- Figures