The countryside is out of fashion

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at: lawrence@krubner.com

The reasons why the college failed:

Sweet Briar officials cited overarching challenges that the college has been unable to handle: the lack of interest from female high school students in attending a women’s college like Sweet Briar, declining interest in liberal arts colleges generally and declining interest in attending colleges in rural areas. Sweet Briar is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. “We are 30 minutes from a Starbucks,” said James F. Jones Jr., president of the college.

I doubt “lack of interest from female high school students in attending a women’s college” could be a factor, since I know several women who went to Bryn Mawr, at least in part because they did not think of themselves as heterosexual — and there will always be a market for people who feel their sexuality is not heterosexual. If anything, that market has grown over time.

Rather, I think the real cause of death was this:

“declining interest in attending colleges in rural areas”

We have been through a long cycle of people leaving the cities, a cycle which began either in the 1930s or the 1950s, depending on how you want to date it. But that cycle has clearly ended, and at least since 2008 there has been a movement back to the city. The movement actually started in 1982, but at that time it was a weak counter-trend to the dominant pattern of people hoping to move to the suburbs.

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