Since 2010, enrollment at colleges with fewer than 1,000 students have dropped 5% on average—compared with a slight increase of enrollment at institutions with more than 10,000 students.
Falling enrollment usually means falling tuition revenue, putting schools in a double bind.
When Antioch College found itself in this situation, leaders found alternative ways to generate more sustainable revenue, Lawrence Biemiller reports in a series for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
"What we're trying to do is create stable, reliable sources of revenue over time, as opposed to feast-and-famine cycles of enrollment," Antioch President Tom Manley tells Biemiller.
As a bonus, many of the strategies also helped Antioch strengthen ties to its surrounding community. Here are two of Antioch's recent initiatives.
1. Wellness Center
Antioch's 44,000-square-foot Wellness Center offers a six-lane swimming pool, yoga and other group-fitness classes, and a variety of exercise equipment.
Antioch allows members of the local community to use the Wellness Center for a monthly fee, creating a steady stream of additional revenue. With nearly 2,000 members, the Wellness Center gathered 5% more revenue in the most recent fiscal year than was initially projected.
2. Sustainable-housing community
Over the next decade, Antioch plans to build a "progressive and ultra-sustainable" 300-unit community, Biemiller writes. The homes are designed for community members to live in—not students—and are placed on land the college owns but didn't have other plans for.
The community will include a mix of shared housing, rental units, and traditional homes for sale.
Eventually, the college plans to offer several perks to residents, such as:
- Use of the Antioch library;
- Access to Antioch cultural events; and
- Access to the nearby Glen Helen nature preserve.
The college is optimistic about the revenue it will generate from selling and leasing the units. "We've got a community of ready buyers," says Sandy Wiggins, a sustainable-development consultant and the lead developer of the project. "Before we start, we're already sold out."
Antioch also plans to allow the local community—and future residents of the units—to purchase campus-grown food from its dining halls and its organic farm. Officials say residents might also enroll in courses, potentially creating even more revenue (Biemiller, Chronicle of Higher Education , 1/8; Biemiller, Chronicle of Higher Education , 1/8; Biemiller, Chronicle of Higher Education , 1/8).
Everything you need to know about alternative revenue streams
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