If you are going to build a campus in Southern California you should do it like Pomona.
In 1887 a group of graduates from schools like Dartmouth, Yale, and Colby wanted to found a college in the New England style… but without the snow. They built Pomona.
They must have done something right because in 2013 Forbes.com ranked Pomona the #2 college in the country. Stanford got #1.
Pause for a minute. #2 over all. This means it beat Harvard, Yale, Princeton, M.I.T., Duke, Cal, and pretty much everyone else.
You may not have heard of Pomona before. Don’t feel bad. A lot of people are just like you and just like you, most people don’t really know what a liberal arts college is. Pomona is a liberal arts college. When I was 17 I thought a liberal arts college was a place for democrats. I was not too bright; one of the reasons I didn’t go to Pomona.
A liberal arts college is normally small, which is why most of us haven’t heard of most of them. These schools focus a bit more on critical thinking ability than a specific marketable skill. If education was stretched out into a line, one end would be poetry and the other would be engineering; business perhaps. A large research University normally lets a student choose one point on this spectrum and focus on it. Upon graduation the student should be proficient, and employable, in whatever they studied ie chemistry, marketing, or even -gulp- English.
A liberal arts education aims to give a student experience and knowledge on as many points on that spectrum as possible. Then, upon graduation, the student should have the ability to look at problems, tasks, or anything, and draw on a wealth of knowledge to generate answers, ideas, or whatever is needed at that moment.
What this does not always generate is a job; or so many think. Many people are wrong.
Now lets not us get this wrong. A job on Wall St. is not and should not, be the sole purpose of college. That being said, about 20% of Pomona grads work in finance. But it is not a pipeline, that would be Wharton. Now if you want to go to grad school, or get a Fulbright (the class of 2007 alone won 24 Fulbright scholarships), or be a lawyer, or simply want to learn in a rigorous and supportive environment, consider the liberal arts route.
There are plenty of such schools around, but at places like Pomona it is kinda hard to get in. 23% of those admitted were their high school’s valedictorian. Most were in the nation’s top percentile on the SAT. They accept less than 1,000 students year to year. That is small.
Don’t worry about the money. When it comes to the top American schools, never worry about the money, worry about getting in. Pomona promises that if you get in, they will make sure you find the money. They also promise that money won’t come from a loan.
But ya gotta get in first.