Whether exclusive private schools or massive public campuses, college has long been seen as extended preparation for the real world. These days, the real world is spending more and more time at college.
Historic lows in public funding and a shortage of skilled manufacturing workers are leading a growing number of states to turn to the private sector to train and educate students, potentially speeding their path through college, providing needed labor and reducing some budget burdens faced by higher education.
In Missouri, the emerging partnerships have spawned a so-called "Innovation Campus" where businesses will employ students as apprentices and help pick up the cost for their education -- either by paying them or contributing money for their tuition.
University of Central Missouri president Charles Ambrose, whose school plans to build the "Innovation Campus" on a 100-acre expanse just outside Kansas City, sees the project answering demands on higher education institutions to deal with dwindling funding from state government while turning out students who don't enter the workforce with suffocating student-loan debt.