After a century of educating women, Sweet Briar College in rural Virginia announced this month it would close. Its endowment of about $84 million did not protect the school from the financial strains of declining enrollment. Some higher education experts warn Sweet Briar is part of a national trend of declining student interest in expensive liberal arts education and single-sex schools in place of more vocational degrees. The challenges many small private colleges face, what some schools are doing to attract students, and if it matters.
- Richard Ekman president, Council of Independent Colleges, a national membership organization of small and medium sized non-profit institutions.
- Victor Ferrall president emeritus, Beloit College and author of "Liberal Arts at the Brink"
- Jeffrey Selingo contributing editor to The Chronicle of Higher Education and contributor to the Washington Post. He is the author of "College Unbound: the Future of Higher Education and What it Means for Students."
- Catharine Bond Hill president, Vassar College
Poll: Are Liberal Arts Degrees Valuable?
Graphic: A Look At Liberal Arts Enrollment
The Washington Post analyzed fall 2013 enrollment data for more than 80 colleges and universities in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. More than half had fewer students in fall 2013 than they did the previous year. Several had significant declines over three years.
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