Building a model to reimagine higher education
Arrupe College of Loyola University Chicago is rethinking the way students access higher education with a high-quality, high-touch, low-cost model.
The higher education landscape in the United States is becoming increasingly inaccessible, unaffordable and unreachable. As an alternative to more costly paths, community college is often the preferred choice of students with limited time and resources. However, only 13 percent of students that attend community college in the U.S. will graduate with their associate degree in two years.
Arrupe College was founded in 2015 to disrupt the status quo by addressing this growing need for more accessible higher education in the Chicago area. It is a private, two-year liberal arts college under the auspices of Loyola University Chicago, the largest Jesuit university in the United States. The college’s model focuses on providing achievable and affordable education in a supportive setting that emphasizes community.
Arrupe College has already seen great success driving exceptional outcomes within its first four years of operating.
Students graduate within 2.5 years.
Students graduate debt-free. The remaining 26% have debt of less than $1400.
Of its first class of graduates has moved on to programs at four-year institutions across the country. From this first cohort, 90% are projected to complete their bachelor’s degrees in five years.
Arrupe College partnered with Accenture to answer the key question: is the Arrupe College model one that is replicable and sustainable and could be scaled to additional universities to provide affordable, high-quality education for the next generation of students?
To better understand how Arrupe College operates and the key components for replication, Accenture hosted interviews with more than 70 stakeholders across the Arrupe College network including staff, faculty, students, alumni, board members, donors and high school counselors. The team found that while affordability is what drew many students to the program, they stayed because of the sense of community and opportunity.
Accenture developed an assessment tool to analyze potential host institutions and their suitability to start a school with an Arrupe College model. It found, that under certain conditions, the model is easily replicated.
There is a significant population (>60,000 of low-income 0-18 year-old population) who represent demand for the Arrupe College model.
The community college options for students in the target demographic are limited or do not perform well (have low two-year graduation rates).
The location for the Arrupe College model school is easily accessible by public transportation.
The host institution has demonstrated financial sustainability through a significant endowment (>$200M) and/or a trend of enrollment growth.
The host institution has a good reputation to attract students, faculty, and staff.
Leadership of the host institution is willing and able to sponsor the program.
Arrupe College was created to be replicated and challenge the status quo of higher education in the United States. Accenture’s analysis of the college’s strengths realized that it is more than a transformational program, it is “the right thing to do.” Students who have the ability and desire to learn deserve to have the opportunity and support to achieve their goals, and get a better head start in their careers.
The conclusion of the project—that high-quality education at a lower cost is not only possible, but in the right conditions, easily replicated—has the power to transform the education landscape at a time when higher education in the United States is at an inflection point. It’s about providing equal opportunities and creating a holistic student experience that supports and encourages those that need it. It’s time to scale the model to other institutions—building and evolving incrementally—and disrupt higher education while changing students’ lives.
"Our students are here to benefit from an extraordinary opportunity, but our students in turn are providing us with an extraordinary opportunity. We benefit from their experience, from their wisdom, from their insights. They are the co-creators with us of this program."
– FATHER STEVE KATSOUROS, S.J., Founding Dean and Executive Director – Arrupe College at Loyola University of Chicago