Your Niche Is Not Enough

In higher education, everyone is looking for a niche — to be that flower that stands out from the others in a meadow. For some institutions, like Dartmouth or Duke, it’s a spin on elite status. For others, it’s a way to be distinctive when name alone won’t carry the day: Education for women (or people who identify as women) at Mills College. Real-world work (and a rock-star college president) at Paul Quinn College. One course at a time at Cornell College (no, the other one, in Iowa).

Colleges with no distinctive identity — so say the consultants and pundits and brand marketers and quotable college presidents — are at risk in such a competitive market.

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