Mills College plans new 'signature experience' in light of financial troubles

Dive Brief:

  • Mills College, a women's college facing financial strain in the midst of declining enrollments, announced that it will craft a “new undergraduate signature experience” that it hopes will entice students to attend the school, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  • The program, which will include individualized and mentored learning, mirrors approaches taken by other liberal arts schools trying to stem the bleeding of decreased revenue and financial troubles, and one Mills professor said it would help students learn how to transform themselves and communities.
  • The announcement comes as Mills plans to set itself on a financial stabilization plan, and it expects to have a “changed faculty” when the program is instituted, but the school’s president did admit that Mills College was not in the position to invest heavily into the new program.

Dive Insight:

Public and private colleges and universities continue to undergo the turmoil of a changing student population and the continued specter of online and distance learning alongside alternative credentialing models. Liberal arts university supporters opine the need for higher education institutions to consider what it is that makes them unique: What might a school offer that could not be available via digital learning? A program crafted as an “undergraduate signature experience” seems to fit the bill, but without much investment expected, it remains to be seen if it is merely a new name being used as a recruitment tool to entice more students.

As colleges and universities continue to experiment with ways to attract new students to enroll for a conventional four-year undergraduate education, such institutions must ensure that their outreach potential is strong enough to get the attention of potential enrollees. Recent research showed that most universities are not taking advantage of social media and digital marketing, despite its role in how students search for and select potential colleges. At a 2016 meeting, a University of California provost also said that private universities should try broader outreach to connect with community college graduates and others that don’t fit the “stereotypical” description of a college student. As the student base becomes increasingly non-traditional, public and private universities alike have to be sure they are adequately communicating to those potential enrollees.

Filed Under: Higher Ed Policy & Regulation