In a July 2 Chronicle of Higher Education article, Professor Kent Charbotar was quoted on the enrollment challenges facing small, private four-year liberal arts colleges without large endowments.
Kent, a professor of political science, recently stepped down as president of Guilford. He will resume teaching in the political science department following a yearlong sabbatical.
The article by Scott Carlson explores the financial challenges faced by these types of institutions as tuition discount rates for prospective freshman students have reached an all-time high and net revenue from tuition has remained largely stagnant, with most colleges seeing no growth in net revenue for the past 13 years.
What lies ahead? "More talk about radical restructuring, but not as much action," Kent said.
Recent undergraduate enrollment surveys reported declining enrollments and named price sensitivity as the biggest issue facing higher education, followed by increasing competition and a smaller pool of traditional students.
"I have never seen savvier kids or savvier parents than the ones we are getting now," Kent said. "They are bargaining all over the place. It’s like going to the used-car dealership."
He predicts that college curricula will need to focus on fewer programs, with cuts in faculty and administrative members. He also expects that more attention will be paid to online programs and junior-year transfer students.
"Transfer students are going to become a much bigger piece of the puzzle," he said, "to the point that they’ll even have a discount rate for juniors."
According to the article, the tougher recruiting environment that colleges are seeing today should be expected to continue.