For rural colleges, an investment in surrounding towns is an investment in their own future
Like many other rural institutions like hospitals and factories, rural colleges have been struggling—and among these, rural liberal arts colleges have perhaps been hit the hardest.
According to U.S. Department of Education data, of the 300 private four-year colleges in rural areas, 43 percent have seen declines in enrollment in recent years.
Now, as The Wall Street Journal reports, some of these colleges are fighting back. Many rural schools are now investing in nearby communities. The thinking goes, the schools can’t survive if the surrounding towns aren’t healthy.
Dirk Moore, a spokesman at Virginia’s rural Emory & Henry College, explained: “It’s not just about being altruistic, this is about our own economic livelihood,” he said, adding: “If the town continues to wither, we’re in trouble. If people in the region flourish, they will have the money to spend on higher education and that is very important to our future.”