Where Professors Send Their Children to College

Last Updated Apr 10, 2011 8:09 PM EDT

Where do professors send their children to college?
In an age when Americans face thousands of higher-ed choices, I think it makes sense to find out where professors' children are attending college. After all, they are the consummate higher-ed insiders.

Thanks to an excellent new book, The Thinking Student's Guide to College, I learned about a study that examined where children of college professors were attending school.

Two researchers at Vanderbilt University gathered data on thousands of professors to see where their children were attending colleges. John F. Siegfried and Malcom Getz compared these results with the college choices of families who share similar income, white-collar occupations and education. The college choices of these two groups were dramatically different.

The Surprise College Choice

The children of professors are far more likely to attend liberal arts colleges than other parents. Children of university faculty are about twice as likely to select liberal arts college than children of parents earning more than $100,000 a year.

Why are college professors steering their children to liberal arts colleges, which educate roughly 3% of the nation's college students?

These insiders understand that liberal arts college focus exclusively on educating undergraduates and offer a boutique education with small classes and personal attention from professors.

In contrast, the main focus for professors at private and public research universities is conducting their own research and training graduate students. Educating undergrads is a lower priority. In fact, at universities graduates students often teach many undergraduate classes.

Why Aren't Liberal Arts Colleges More Popular?

So why aren't more affluent families -- or any families for that matter -- seriously considering liberal arts colleges? For starters, they don't even know these schools exist.

Here's the authors' take on what's causing this missed opportunity:

"Most leading research universities have strong national reputations, while only a few elite liberal arts colleges are known outside their geographic region."

"Because of their small scale, more modest emphasis on athletics as a public spectacle, and lower research profile, the liberal arts colleges do not garner the press, television exposure, and national name-recognition enjoyed by the nation's premier research universities."

As a mom with two children attending liberal arts colleges, I have to add that this is a darn shame.

Lynn O'Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes for TheCollegeSolutionBlog.
Liberal arts college image by nathan makan. CC 2.0.

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