How one liberal arts college used a new curriculum as a recruiting tool

'Needed to find something unique'

Atlanta's Agnes Scott College dramatically altered its curriculum—and welcomed its largest first-year class on record last fall, Lawrence Biemiller reports for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Since its founding more than a century ago Agnes Scott has been a women's college with a focus on liberal-arts education. But the 2008 recession stretched school finances, and enrollment started to decline.

"Unless you come up with something unique, you're not likely to survive" as a liberal arts college, says Elizabeth Jones, a member of Agnes Scott's board of trustees.

'Find something unique'

The college created Summit, a transformation program positioning the college as one for women who want to become leaders in an increasingly global society. The curriculum emphasizes leadership and global awareness—skills that today's high school women are particularly interested in developing.

The program teaches what the college considers five "essential skills for leaders": critical thinking, writing, public speaking, teamwork, and digital literacy. In addition, first-year students spend their spring semester abroad and each student is assigned a four-person advising board.

How women's colleges play a special role in preparing women for leadership

The $20 million bet may be paying off: two-thirds of the current freshman class said the Summit program was important or very important in their decision to attend Agnes Scott (Biemiller, Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/6).

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