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Thought Leadership

Why Having Two Types Of Elite Universities Will Restore Confidence In U.S. Higher Education

Brandon Busteed

For decades, a disproportionate amount of attention has been paid to and showered upon a tiny number of the most selective colleges and universities in America. Less than one half of one percent of undergraduates in the U.S. attend an Ivy League institution. Yet countless news articles and attention are focused on these and other elite institutions. This week’s higher ed news was dominated by the announcement that one of the wealthiest universities in the world just became $1.1 Billion richer. But for as much as these elites may continue to enjoy a large part of the mindshare of ‘college,’ the future is very much in the hands of a new class of elite university – those that are the fastest growing and most student-centric institutions. And the ‘dueling-piano’ impact from having two types of elite universities will make higher education better for everyone.

The growth of institutions such as Western Governor’s University (WGU), Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), Arizona State University (ASU) and a handful of others has created a new elite in higher education. They are elite in who they serve as opposed to who they turn away. This has been a famous refrain made by Michael Crow, President of ASU, for years. And it’s the driving principle that has propelled ASU to being named the Most Innovative University in America for 7 consecutive years. Both WGU and SNHU currently enroll over 135,000 students each, making them the largest universities in the country. WGU was founded a mere 25 years ago and SNHU (its current online form) launched just 27 years ago. At their current run-rate of annual graduates, WGU’s alumni base will surpass the largest in the U.S. (The Ohio State University) in roughly 5 years – which means WGU will produce more graduates in 30 years than Ohio State has in over 150.

Read the rest of “Why Having Two Types of Elite Universities Will Restore Confidence in U.S. Higher Education” in Forbes.

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