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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

When colleges close, most students give up on a degree

Colleges and universities are closing or merging at a the rate of one per week, double last year's rate, reports Hechinger's Jon Marcus.


"Most students at colleges that close give up on their educations altogether," according to a study by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, or SHEEO. "Fewer than half transfer to other institutions," and of those who do transfer fewer than half complete degrees.


Transfer students "lose an average of 43 percent of the credits they’ve already earned and paid for," writes Marcus. But they still owe on their student loans.


Selective colleges have plenty of students to choose from, but third-tier private colleges face a double whammy: Falling birth rates mean fewer high school graduates, and high college costs discourage those in the shrinking cohort of teenagers.


"The closings follow an enrollment decline of 14 percent in the decade through 2022," writes Marcus. "Another decline of up to 15 percent is projected to begin in 2025."


Wells College in upstate New York announced its closing Monday, with a week to go in the semester.



Often, students get little advance notice their college is folding, and little help in finding an alternative, writes Marcus.


Some colleges -- including state universities in New York and Wisconsin -- are turning to "direct admissions" to fill empty seats, writes Harrington Shaw for the Martin Center blog. Struggling institutions mail unsolicited college acceptance letters to high schoolers who haven't applied.


What's the college completion rate for students who weren't motivated enough to apply? We don't know because the trend is new. But we can guess.

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JK Brown
JK Brown
May 01

These colleges could do something radical like not hiring these activist professors who waste students time and tuition in vanity courses that have no educational value in the sense of developing discipline of intellect, regulation of emotions and establishment of principles. But they won't do something like that as the purpose of the university is as a "primarily a guild of teachers and scholars, formed for common protection and mutual aid."


The medieval university differed in many respects with our idea of a modern university. It was primarily a guild of teachers and scholars, formed for common protection and mutual aid. It was a republic of letters, whose members were exempt from all services private and public, all personal tax…
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Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
May 01
Replying to

It's hard to know where to begin here. (1) There were no Nazis in 1876, when Johns Hopkins was founded; (2) the PhD had existed for at least seven centuries before Hopkins; (3) the term "anti-semitism" is indicative of the bias of English speakers: Palestinians speak Arabic, by far the world's largest Semitic language (the term "Semite" is largely dated and useless, having utility only in linguistics), so calling Palestinians and their supporters "anti-Semitic" is self-contradictory on its face, if all too common.

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