It used to be that a small private college was considered to be specialized in the liberal arts. However, you are more often likely to see a small private college such as Cabrini University (PA), profiled on this site, offer a variety of undergraduate pre-professional degree programs. If you look at Cabrini’s majors list, as one example, the majority of the majors are pre-professional. Cabrini does a very good job at offering a more personalized approach for majors in Business, Communications, Education and Exercise Science. The university also offers a long list of dual degree programs for a school with less than 1,500 undergrads.

Cabrini does a very good job of selling itself as a multi-purpose private college. You can visit campus for an open house and leave convinced that a student could enter Cabrini and graduate on a positive direction to employment or further education. That’s what makes Cabrini quite different from a traditional liberal arts college. That difference brought smiles to prospects and parents on the day of my visit.

Colleges such as Cabrini have had to become a multi-purpose private college—this school just reorganized as a university—to appeal to prospective students who might be considering similar programs in areas such as Business, Communications, Education and Exercise Science that are also offered at much larger schools. The difference is that Cabrini makes it easier to enter undecided between, for example, Business and Communications, or Education and Psychology or Social Work, sample courses in these majors, make their decision at the end of their sophomore year and still graduate within four years. The larger university, such as Penn State or West Chester, has larger “schools of.” It’s sometimes harder to switch into a pre-professional “school of” from a totally undecided status or a school of arts and sciences.

The multi-purpose small private college might also offer graduate degrees, as Cabrini does. However, their students are more likely to be commuters, and less likely to be teaching assistants to the undergraduates, as they might at a larger school.

Cabrini, among others offers scholarships to attract the students who are more likely to be in the middle or upper quarter of the entering classes at these larger schools to help them to choose in favor of a small private college. Then there are schools such as Rosemont College (PA) and Utica College (NY) that “reset” their sticker price for tuition to be closer to the charges set by state schools.

Who should consider a multi-purpose small private college versus a larger school?

  • Students who are truly undecided between majors that might be offered at different “schools  of” within the larger university.
  • Students who learn better when a teacher is more accessible, and therefore more likely to go to class.
  • Students who would feel less intimidated and less shy to ask for help in a small college setting.

The multi-purpose small private college is a concept that will continue to evolve. It will  continue to bring the academic offerings of smaller schools closer to those of larger one, while attempting to maintain accreditation and quality instruction that the students need, and parents and employers expect.

For more college insights to help you build your own college list, contact me at or call me at 609-406-0062.

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