Education: Learning for Earning

At 18, Anne DeNapoli was a discouraged liberal arts student at Nassau Community College on Long Island. "I really felt that I was accomplishing nothing," she recalls. "I was learning things, but nothing that I could use in the future." She dropped out of college to enroll in Katharine Gibbs School, which promised her secretarial skills that would enable her to get a job immediately after graduation.

Her decision has become increasingly common. As a result, while many liberal arts colleges languish or go out of business for lack of students and money—at least...

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