Higher Education

The Sweet Briar lesson, and the future of small private colleges

The ills that face colleges across the country

A Sweet Briar College graduate wipes away a tear during commencement exercises Saturday morning, May 16, 2015 near Amherst, Va. The school announced plans to close earlier in the year, potentially making the class of 2015 the school's last.

A Sweet Briar College graduate wipes away a tear during commencement exercises Saturday morning, May 16, 2015 near Amherst, Va. The school announced plans to close earlier in the year, potentially making the class of 2015 the school’s last.

Sweet Briar College may have been saved by its alumni, at least for now, but small private, nonprofit colleges across the country remain at risk.

That’s because these schools face longstanding obligations and financial models that require them to give away unsustainable proportions of their revenue in the form of discounts to lure accepted applicants.

The $20 million in pledges from Sweet Briar alumni and supporters to keep the college going after its announced shutdown speaks to the broad support and affection for these institutions, and increasing demands that their leaders find ways to sustain them.

The Hechinger Report’s Jon Marcus discusses this topic with Stephen Smith for American RadioWorks. Listen to the conversation here.

 

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Jon Marcus

Jon Marcus, higher-education editor, has written about higher education for the Washington Post, USA Today, Time, the Boston Globe, Washington Monthly, is North America higher-education… See Archive

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