Enrollment officials are looking at what their institutions offer students overall. For example, Lake Forest College (Ill.) has placed an emphasis on increasing partnerships across the institution and "adding value to the student experience through collaborative academic programs," says admissions vice president Bill Motzer. Accelerated offerings include a 3+3 BA/JD program that allows students to complete a bachelor's degree and a Loyola University Chicago law degree in a total of six, rather than seven, years.
Motzer recommends colleges "think about the economic investment students are making." To help students afford Lake Forest, the college has tried to become more transparent about the merit aid it will award, guaranteeing $12,000 for all admitted students from Illinois, which helped the college meet its goal of enrolling, for the time being, 50 percent of its class from its home state.
Another small liberal arts college focusing on ways to improve the student experience and help students afford high tuition and fees is Colorado College. Celebrating a recent $10 million matching grant for high-need, first-generation students, Mark Hatch, vice president for enrollment management, notes the importance of the gift and the college's endowment funds in providing predominately need-based aid for families. He stresses the importance of outreach for a college he describes as a "three-headed monster": that is, a small, private, liberal arts college located in a region better known for megasized public universities.
Such a description can apply to many private colleges and universities around the country needing to address the issue of affordability in this recession.
Cautious about how they spend their educational resources or take on debt to finance a college degree, families are responding well to strong programs, discussions about how a pre-professional program places candidates in jobs or accelerated graduate programs, explanations about how the liberal arts helps for a lifetime and career development, and how enrolled students are retained through to graduation and counseled about post-graduate plans.