According to the Futurist periodical, and continuing work in the field, the number of Liberal Arts Colleges in the United States has dropped by 39% since 1990. Roger Baldwin, professor of education administration at Michigan State University thinks that liberal arts colleges may disapear.
The 21st century demographics and government policy changes are forcing small colleges to make changes in educational content, marketing and the type of students that enroll in their programs. Many schools are looking at long run picture of continued declines impacting enrollment and the continued ability to operate as a college. Over the last 20 years, the number of small liberal arts colleges has been shrinking at an increasing rate. The same decline is true of small private religious schools and seminaries. The challenges ahead look even more daunting.
We believe you should explore the future as a totally different type of educational institution.
We believe it is time to create a new college. What if several small liberal arts colleges became a new type of college and college community for young retirees.
There are 78 million new retirees that are healthy, wealthy and have a continued thirst for life long learning.
This cohort had a terrific time in college – for many the best time in their lives. They progressed to successful careers and to a rewarding thirty years or so of work. So now what?
Retirement communities have grown and flourished over the last quarter of the 20th century. Variation upon variation has been developed across the country. From a learning perspective, one variety that is of interest is the 50 university based retirement communities that try to integrate retirement living and a college atmosphere. The other is Life Long Learning programs many funded by the Bernard Osher Foundation that operate as adjunct programs at over 200 universities. We believe the scene is set for an exciting new alternative.
Our vision is as follows:
A small college setting with a curriculum that is specifically designed for retired seniors with a thirst for life long learning.
Dormitories designed for short and intermediate stays by visiting seniors attending short course programs.
A retirement community with a continuous care vision integrated with the college consisting of various housing types from single family housing, cottages, condominiums, rentals, assisted living, and nursing home abilities.
“Smart” homes that make the appropriate accommodations for seniors and are energy efficient.
Here are ten outcomes that should excite a college administration that is looking at this idea for the first time:
- The retirement community is populated by people that want this setting as their home because of the attachment to life long learning.
- The retirement community is represented by higher income seniors that are provided a level of living that financially assists the college.
- The retirement community is physically integrated with the college so that services, culture, physical activity and recreation are part of the campus.
- The college and retirement community will provide a very significant amount of employment for the whole region.
- Providing quality senior education and senior living will result in a significant interest by residents in building a strong and vibrant foundation of continued growth.
- The attraction of physical social networking will mean any growth the concept of senior electronic college programs will be a minimal threat.
- Given the demographics for the country, the well built and programmed new retiree college should have a 30-50 year existence.
- The college will develop and gain an international reputation as a new alternative for learning and living in the 21st century.
- For rural small colleges, added services such as health clinics, transportation, financial services will increase the quality of life for the nearby towns, villages and region.
- The growth potential into centers for gerontological research, inter generational programs, senior college level “e-college” for international learning will expand the potential of the college for growth.
This is a new concept. It is also a complicated integration of two well practiced concepts. The first challenge is to test out the idea for a specific campus As such, for the next five years or so there is not “template” or check list that will help implementation. In this website is a business plan that explores in detail the kinds of issues that will tumble out of a decision to move forward. Since the plan is “generic” there are questions specific to your campus that we can help you answer.
If your college is one of the colleges that is challenged by a cloudy future, we would be pleased to help think through whether more detailed work makes sense. We have provided two other sections of the website. One oriented toward retirees and the other more information of our consulting services.