Making College Economically Viable

Universities must make strategic choices about which traditions are sustainable and which are not. These choices run the gamut from embracing online and distance learning to key operational and mission-related decisions.

For example, very few businesses can succeed when they run seven or eight months out of the year, and university leaders will have to think carefully about the academic calendar. They should consider whether it is realistic to be universal in the subject matter they offer or if they should specialize in select core subjects like sci-tech/engineering or liberal arts. Another consideration is whether to recruit a broad base of students, or just those they can serve uniquely well, such as traditional college-age undergraduates. Finally, universities must think about the balance of teaching and research and what that means for tenure and compensation policies.

In sum, colleges and universities cannot survive by doing everything they’ve always done. They must focus on what they do best to educate the students they wish to serve.

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