Playing with Technology

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. ~Arthur C. Clarke

The demand for residential liberal arts colleges

My previous post made mention of the astronomical cost of an education at a liberal arts institution. I estimated that in a few years we would be able to support at most 75 such schools. Based on data presented in For Have-Nots, the Rockier Road to a College Degree Increases the Appeal of Alternatives it would seem that my estimate is WAY too high. In the article they present data indicating that there are about 4.35 million 18-year-olds. The number of these students that expressed an interest in small colleges is reported to be 0.05% or 2,175. If we look at the number interested in private colleges and universities the pool expands to 8,700. Using the 8,700 figure for students private institutions are trying to attract and 75 for the number of such institutions would mean an incoming class of 116 per institution. My experience indicates that most private institutions are trying to attract classes of around 500 students. This would mean that there is a demand for about 20 such institutions. Data from the Chronicle would seem to indicate that there are certainly more than 20 such institutions and could be 40 times that number. So how are liberal arts institutions dealing with this? Are most even aware of what I perceive as a pending collapse? Or have the numbers always looked like this and if so is there something different about the numbers today than in the past?