Sep 29, 2017

The Bad and Good News About Independent Schools and Colleges

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September is always a busy month for our team, as we launch strategic planning processes for clients across the nation.  In the past three weeks, we have seen launches for schools and colleges in Chicago, Raleigh-Durham, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Dallas, San Antonio, Nashville, and Bend.  Each school and college has their own unique context and culture, creating a series of unique challenges and opportunities. When you see a lot of schools, you learn a lot about what’s working and not.

Here’s the bad news about our future.  Independent schools are declining in demand.  The ultra high cost and low volume model, subsidized with high amounts of financial aid and large expectations on philanthropy is a threatened business model.  I don’t see any major innovations or disruptions in the model in the future.  While we have been better as a cohort at adopting new ways to teach and learn, evolve the classroom, and become more student-centered, we are not making those strides in creating financially sound futures.

And, here’s the good news.  These schools are independent!  They enjoy their own mission, values, and distinct educational philosophy.  Our independent schools are not bound to any specific business model.  We can unleash the creativity that we have historically provided our students and create a new paradigm that will serve our students well into the future.  

I am calling on our independence as our greatest strength.  I am bullish on the future of our industry.  We have some tough challenges ahead but I believe we can – and will – create a new business model that will allow us to not just survive – but thrive – in the future.

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