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Is There a Market for a Simplified College?

With the rising costs of traditional four-year universities--usually linked at least in part to sports team trappings, student union-sanctioned extracurriculars, and dormitory maintenance--is there a market emerging for a "low cost, no frills" college? The Pennsylvania Board of Education thinks so, and approved a proposal yesterday to design and budget a new kind of four-year institution that will leave all those trimmings by the wayside.

No sports teams. No extracurriculars. No super gymnasium or plum dorm room.

No extras at all.

The schools instead would offer an accelerated, year-round program much like a community college, but they would offer four-year degrees as opposed to two-year associate degrees.

"Somewhere, there should be a no-frills option. Let's see if there's a market for a Yugo or a Ford," board chairman Joseph Torsella said.

Other bullet points in the proposal include attention to unnecessary and costly mandates, as well as a limit on on-campus marketing from credit card companies in an effort to protect students from debt. The board's executive director, Jim Buckheit, stresses that this development is still in the early planning phase and the board still isn't sure exactly in what direction and how far they are going to take the concept, but it will be interesting to see this unfold.

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