15. The Hidden Truth

When you visit a college, I don’t want to say you should go and count smiles, but to some extent this whole business is more of an art than a science.

—Frederick E. Rugg, author of Rugg’s Recommendations on the Colleges, 24th Edition

On a hot summer day in 2007, Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, announced its own obituary. The college trustees voted to close the school—at least for a few years—after the class of 2008 had graduated.

The 155-year-old college, which had been founded by abolitionists, had imploded. The once proud prominent liberal arts college, was pretty much out of money, out of students (around 300 were enrolled), and out of time.

Critiques published in The Chronicle of Higher Education suggested ...

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