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Starting a private college will be a great challenge and a great reward. Private colleges offer a smaller class size, which translates to more personal attention, and ultimately a better education. Starting a private college shares many characteristics with starting any business, but there are some significant differences. Keep reading to discover the steps to start a private college.
In deciding to start a private college, your first step is to assemble a Planning Committee. The Committee should include parents, teachers, leaders in the community, local politicians, and other citizens who have an interest in higher education and who are willing to take on the responsibility. Other interested parties may be local land developers, churches, private corporations, and perhaps other existing colleges in the area. The purpose of the committee is to sign off on facilities, enrollment policies, budgets, etc. and to study other models of private colleges to determine what has worked and what hasn't.
Every successful business starts with a well-thought-out business plan. Within a private college business plan you will need to include your strategy for start up (including teachers and students), your financial plan, educational plan, your accreditation application process, and your plan for fundraising.
Once you have your business plan in place, you will need to work with your state's Board of Education to ensure that the college will be in compliance with all state educational regulations and laws. You should take your legal counsel on any meeting with the Board of Ed to ensure that you are properly represented. Your legal counsel will also advise you on the school's tax options, such as applying for 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable status.
In order to start a private college, one of the most important aspects of the process is funding. Sources of funding may be the federal government, philanthropic community members, selling bonds, and even involving the private sector for support. In fact, you may want to hire a fundraiser to take on the task full time.
When funds have been raised, the facility is under construction, and the opening date of the private college has been determined, your next priority is hiring a competent staff of teachers and professors who share your vision and sensibilities. This is a crucial step in the process. You will need to conduct a nation-wide search for the proper talent, and the Planning Committee will be involved in the interview and hiring process.
Finally, in order to maximize enrollment, you will need to create a buzz of excitement about the new private college through advertising, word of mouth, and through your commitment to and involvement in the community. Besides print and Internet ads, you'll want to plan an open house to introduce the teachers and the facility to the community. You will need to arrange to have this event covered by the local television news stations.
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Starting a private college is a huge undertaking. You may want to consider hiring a company with expertise in the private college start-up process to assist you.
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