Several decades ago I advanced an idea for a college based upon a small student body with small discussion classes and instruction by occasional remote faculty. Including many international faculty. This was before the Internet and the necessary technology.
My vision was the byproduct of my own experience at the University of Chicago at the tail end of the ‘Hutchins Era’ (1954-1957). The undergraduate Chicago school had about 500 students and most classes were 20 students, all participating, with a faculty facilitator.
That is how I learned. That is how I learn. So I wanted more people to have this experience.
However I could never figure out how to make such a school financially functional. I had been the consultant to several colleges and saw how the administration could be minimized. I had been on a university credentialing committee so I knew the criteria for credentials. But my model never came together, despite my experience.
By accident, reading about the founder of a new Internet startup, I read that he was going to a college called a Minerva School. And damned if the main Minerva School wasn’t in San Francisco, where I live. I’d never heard of it and it is already more than three years old.
The school has my ideal small class discussion groups, an international faculty and much of the pedagogy is on the Internet. The tuition is lower than the University of California or the California State colleges, at $12,000.
The Minerva Schools are a part of an extensive academic network (Keck), a minimal administration, 20 person facilitated classes, a small student body, a global faculty, a global student body and global classroom locations. The tuition is lower than the University of California, lower than nearly every American private college and most universities in the country.
The future of a good college education has arrived.