Benefactors Beware

Seven hazards donors to higher ed need to avoid

Contributors to higher education should be paying attention to some very troubling trends today. A sharp decline in the pool of students has begun. Campus resources are being misallocated. Degree-completion rates are shockingly low. Political extremism is at a peak. We offer facts, cautionaries, and suggestions on how philanthropists can help colleges get back on track.

  1. Colleges are underproducing
    Donors poured $47 billion into colleges and universities in 2018, yet administrators are rarely asked to account for their spending, or challenged on today’s serious underutilization of resources.
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  2. Students are in short supply
    Thanks to birth declines, we have too many college seats. Leaders must make hard choices in response.
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  3. More college ≠ more prosperity
    If your college giving is an attempt to fuel economic success, you are operating under an illusion. Formal lecture-style instruction is not a path to prosperity.
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  4. College is not as useful as it should be
    Career success and life happiness are what young people want most from colleges today. But typical campuses don’t provide much of a boost in either area.
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  5. Degree completion rates are a disgrace
    Only about half of the folks who start college of any sort walk away with a completed credential.
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  6. Campuses are wracked by political correctness>
    Colleges are now completely disconnected from the views and priorities of mainstream Americans, and often enforce orthodoxies from the far edges of the political spectrum.
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  7. Religious colleges are under attack
    Intolerance for religious education has been creeping into academic practice and federal policy. America’s 1,204 religious colleges need defenders.
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