Robert Fried and Erik Kramer, in an Inside Higher Ed commentary:

Small colleges continue to wither on the vine, cleaving to an outmoded model of a liberal education largely because their well-endowed elite college brethren burnish the same academic memes and rely on exclusivity to boost their rankings in U.S. News & World Report and upon generous alumni to propel them further into elite status. These second-tier colleges, in pursuit of full-tuition students, feel obliged to play as much of the same game as the Ivies as they can afford. And they are going out of business in the attempt.

The whole piece is an argument for second- and third-tier liberal arts colleges—the ones that are suffering badly right now—to ditch the Amherst model. It’s an attractive idea, though—as David Labaree argues in his 2017 A Perfect Mess—the emulative ideal is at the very core of the American higher ed system. Labaree, in effect, celebrates the elite-aspiring monoculture; the Inside Higher Ed piece is a welcome if quixotic dissent.