Author Topic: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits  (Read 15013 times)

dr_codex

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #150 on: September 06, 2019, 09:25:44 AM »
President is really active on Twitter, so you can all get a better sense of the situation by reading his timeline https://twitter.com/stuprez
If my place had a stupid president, I would hope they could grab that Twitter handle.

Hee.

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apl68

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #151 on: September 07, 2019, 06:57:08 AM »
I find it interesting that so many on the conservative right are not supportive of colleges for fear that their children will be indoctrinated by all us chardonnay sipping, Birkenstock wearing, Volvo driving liberals  into becoming communists, or atheists, or lesbians or something.

Any yet, there are dozens of faith based schools circling the drain for lack of students.  If parents want to have their kids educated, but not expose them to the evils all us secular humanists pose, why are they not knocking down the doors of colleges that will  be supportive of their faith, while still providing a leg up to join (or stay in) the middle class?

I'm a little reluctant to respond to this, given the obvious hostility expressed here toward those of us who care about faith-based colleges, but here are some ideas:

1.  Some religious denominations have shrunk a great deal in recent decades, and so may now have more college infrastructure than they really need.

2.  On a related note, many religious colleges are located in regions where there are many schools--religious and otherwise--and declining demographics.  Since most of these weren't rich schools to begin with, any decline in enrollment is a bad development.  By contrast, my denominationally-affiliated alma mater is in a region where there is less competition, and so far seems to have kept its enrollment and finances in good shape.

3.  Some parents who might want to send their children to religiously-affiliated schools simply can't afford to do so any more due to rising tuition.  It's the region's cheaper state-supported school or nothing.  I know such parents.

4.  Others have decided to try the online degree alternative, and unfortunately a couple of big schools like Liberty now seem to have that all sewn up.

5.  At some religiously-affiliated schools the affiliation is more of an historical artifact than a living faith tradition.  This gives the school a less distinctive "brand"--now, instead of filling a clear niche, it's just another no-name little private school.  IIRC polly's "Super Dinky College" had this problem.  Families for whom the religious affiliation was important felt that the school had watered down its beliefs, yet paradoxically there were other prospective students who thought even a vestigial religious affiliation was a turn-off.

I apologize for my tone and would express my thanks for taking the question seriously.  Thanks for your response.

Thank you.  I went to a college where the religious affiliation was still very much a part of the school.  It matters greatly to some of us.  I'm sure that a lot of these failing schools we read about have alumni and others for whom it matters as well.

mamselle

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #152 on: September 07, 2019, 07:57:05 AM »
There also tend to be a couple of very invalid assumptions going on (which tie to my discussion of Harvard's early history on another thread).

Religious people, like religious institutions, come in all flavors. Agreed, individuals (and yes, sometimes many individuals) have had distressing or damaging interactions within given religious institutions--including schools, churches, synagogues, mosques, ashrams, havurat, shamanic communities, etc.

Those are indeed to be called out, redressed, and the perpetrators purged and punished.

But characterizing them all as mindless, punitive, hypocritical, sin-ridden, and dangerous is disingenuous.

It's too easy to create a straw wo/man, pop a collar, a tallis, surplice, or prayer shawl on them, and call all who dress like them evil.

I, too, am grateful for secundem_artem's apology, because it's just as important to take the good points seriously as the bad ones. I work in interfaith/ecumenical settings, and I am constantly humbled and impressed by how hard and how carefully most religious leaders work to do good pastoral care, relate appropriately to other public figures in their towns and regions, and creates systems and structures that help move social justice needs forward as well.

Many, if not most, of those leaders found their calling early in their lives, and many of those took place in religiously-identified schools that sought to make the connections between intention, intelligence, and education. 

Public schools are hampered in making some of those more direct links, although I was impressed at the interactive level when subbing for two years in a public school system, how carefully most of those teachers and administrators likewise sought to inculcate empathy and ethical awareness in their students.

It's a bit too easy to concentrate one's characterizations on the extremes, and ignore the valuable, richly varied offerings of institutions and individuals residing at all levels within the much larger range of confessional depth here, and elsewhere--and to downplay true efforts to live out goodness all along the continuum between those extremes.

The1690s Acts of Toleration (and Locke's works that perhaps sparked them) deserve a re-read from both directions.

 Those who claim toleration for religious difference in the global sense need to be able to apply it locally as well....and vice-versa.

And religiously based schools, some, but not all of them, among the oldest in the world, that do this work well deserve approbation for it.

M.
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polly_mer

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #153 on: September 07, 2019, 08:23:11 AM »
apl68 is correct that Super Dinky College did indeed have the problem of being religiously affiliated, but not being religious enough for people who really wanted that experience.

The religious organization had three members on the board of trustees according to the college charter, but their voices were often lost among the total 30+ trustees.  Someone at some point managed to get the charter changed so the religious affiliate had no voice on the executive council where the real decisions were made, including hiring of faculty.  The college officially has a statement in the faculty handbook along the lines of "faculty will hold views compatible with the <religious body> and Super Dinky's mission", but I had no problem there as an atheist and never had to sign a statement of faith.

Alumni are still angry about the elimination of mandatory chapel attendance decades ago.  Alumni also were up in arms when the news broke that the chapel would indeed be rented to anyone who could pay the fees, not just people who would be able to be married under the traditions of the appropriate church affiliate.

Yet, a group of about 20 current students pushed really hard to get regular services reinstated because they didn't like just having prayers be just one of opening ceremonial checkboxes for large gatherings.   We had arrangements with a part-time chaplain but those arrangements kept falling through as the individual chaplains realized students wanted more religious life than the part-time contract covered and most of the faculty/staff/administration were focused on other areas of college life.

Eventually, we ended up with a director of religious life who was not ordained, but was a very active member of a local church that best represented the students we had.  That director was happy to work part-time arranging church and related experiences for identifiable groups of students including vanpools to the nearest temple and mosque. 

Then, people were up in arms because, while that local church was the one that best represented the religious affiliation of the students who had expressed a preference to have more religion on campus, the local church was not related to the church with which we were officially affiliated and was WRONG to the point of being EVIL.  Most of the faculty, staff, and administration were of the opinion that both are mainstream American religious sects with a large number of members so <shrug>, but the people who cared cared a lot and were very, very vocal about EVIL in choosing THOSE PEOPLE as representing our religious life.  The last I saw, the director of religious life was still there and the webpages listing all the local (or nearest) religious houses of worship were still up.

The 10th day count did not make the papers for the past few years, but I can't imagine that it's still above 500 students at Super Dinky.
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spork

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #154 on: September 10, 2019, 02:41:11 AM »

ex_mo

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #155 on: September 10, 2019, 07:24:24 AM »
apl68 is correct that Super Dinky College did indeed have the problem of being religiously affiliated, but not being religious enough for people who really wanted that experience.

The religious organization had three members on the board of trustees according to the college charter, but their voices were often lost among the total 30+ trustees.  Someone at some point managed to get the charter changed so the religious affiliate had no voice on the executive council where the real decisions were made, including hiring of faculty.  The college officially has a statement in the faculty handbook along the lines of "faculty will hold views compatible with the <religious body> and Super Dinky's mission", but I had no problem there as an atheist and never had to sign a statement of faith.

Alumni are still angry about the elimination of mandatory chapel attendance decades ago.  Alumni also were up in arms when the news broke that the chapel would indeed be rented to anyone who could pay the fees, not just people who would be able to be married under the traditions of the appropriate church affiliate.

Yet, a group of about 20 current students pushed really hard to get regular services reinstated because they didn't like just having prayers be just one of opening ceremonial checkboxes for large gatherings.   We had arrangements with a part-time chaplain but those arrangements kept falling through as the individual chaplains realized students wanted more religious life than the part-time contract covered and most of the faculty/staff/administration were focused on other areas of college life.

Eventually, we ended up with a director of religious life who was not ordained, but was a very active member of a local church that best represented the students we had.  That director was happy to work part-time arranging church and related experiences for identifiable groups of students including vanpools to the nearest temple and mosque. 

Then, people were up in arms because, while that local church was the one that best represented the religious affiliation of the students who had expressed a preference to have more religion on campus, the local church was not related to the church with which we were officially affiliated and was WRONG to the point of being EVIL.  Most of the faculty, staff, and administration were of the opinion that both are mainstream American religious sects with a large number of members so <shrug>, but the people who cared cared a lot and were very, very vocal about EVIL in choosing THOSE PEOPLE as representing our religious life.  The last I saw, the director of religious life was still there and the webpages listing all the local (or nearest) religious houses of worship were still up.

The 10th day count did not make the papers for the past few years, but I can't imagine that it's still above 500 students at Super Dinky.

My parents attended this school and, while they aren't particularly vocal, my mother "served her time" (her words) on the alumni board probably around the time Polly worked there. It is probably important that this particular school is not Catholic or evangelical like Liberty and instead is affiliated with a version of  what I'd consider mainstream Protestantism, which I think adds to the challenges there. Thinking sociologically for a minute, what is the "brand identity" of something like Presbyterianism or Methodism? It simply isn't the same as being a Jesuit school or a school affiliated with the Southern Baptist church. This is the way of American religious life, in a lot of ways.

Incidentally, there was a big piece in Politico yesterday about Liberty. They are by no means in dire financial straights, but whoo boy, this is a lot. https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2019/09/09/jerry-falwell-liberty-university-loans-227914.

mamselle

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #156 on: September 10, 2019, 10:39:52 AM »
I saw the Liberty article as well, thought it was well-written and well-researched. I work with two people who hold degrees from Liberty, who are on the board of the NP I support as an EA at the moment, so I was interested to see what was going on there, and sorry to see the dynamics that had occurred.

I don't mention my reservations about their degrees (which don't seem to have been very rigorous, albeit somewhat credible) to my two board members. But they're well-intentioned, careful pastors to the congregations they serve, and I respect them for their efforts to read and understand texts, beyond the work they did for their M.Div's, and for their lived faith.

At one time, fundamentalism was truly undervalued and maligned, and marginalized in ways we don't remember any more; it was often equated with poverty and ignorance as well. It still has theological and socially appropriate contributions to make, but they are often overcome or outshouted by those who have tried to capitalize on the feelings of entitlement and devaluation that were being experienced just at the turning point (I'd say, the late 1970s, early 1980s) when certain results of the work ethic began to blossom among the second and third generation of ministers and preachers (Franklin Graham and Francis Schaeffer's son, Frankie, come to mind.)

Their parents mostly worked to balance their messages between the well-researched, studious preachments they were trained to give, and the desire to see what they had to offer given forth on a larger scale (I ushered for a Billy Graham service in the late 1970s; it was underwhelming emotionally, except in the number of people who filled the stadium. I was impressed that they encouraged those who sought counseling to find a local congregation to join: they weren't trying to "push" their own "brand" per se. I also read several of Schaeffer's works on faith and the arts, was disappointed in some concrete assertions that weren't always bourne out by known art historical facts at the time, but was glad to see someone at least tackling the issues there, too).

Those individuals' sense of missiology may well have been flawed, but they were honest in their definition of the scope of their work; several of their offspring seem to have caught the "performance" part of the equation, but not the "prayer" in the watchword "Both a performance and a prayer," and project too far, too fast, and too loudly, a distorted message which I only barely recognize as Gospel in some ways--but even that can, and has, had good effect on some of their hearers (not to say that those are the only results).

And the midstream/mainstream denominations, which suffered for a time from their perceived "stodginess," do not, indeed, deserve to be considered in the same way or the same light. Many are filled with careful, caring people who go about their life and their work with an added dimension to their life which is informed and influenced by what they do, say, read, hear, and sing in worship.

That extends, indeed, to the ways I perceive Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other faiths. Each has a central core of mostly caring people who seek to maintain a sense of humanity and divinity in their lives and their work. Each also, in different ways, may have fringe groups that stir up anger, or claim disproportionate redress for wrongs done them that transcend the limits their own faith would impose on harmful behavior to others, etc.

I'm sorry to hear of the polarization that happened at the school you're both discussing; it's hard to know when to let things move forward and when to hold so specific points won't be lost. I've been in situations like that, one wants both to minister to the sense of loss those who are trying to hold out to prevent change are feeling, while urging them to allow growth (which is simpler to frame than 'change' in those settings) where they can as well.

M.
Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.

Reprove not a scorner, lest they hate thee: rebuke the wise, and they will love thee.

Give instruction to the wise, and they will be yet wiser: teach the just, and they will increase in learning.

Hibush

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #157 on: September 16, 2019, 09:33:31 AM »
I cannot fathom what they are thinking.

More comments on the IHE articles indicate:
  • Both institutions have endowments in the mid-30 million dollars, which means Bridgeport just more than doubled its endowment.

  • Since Marlboro College has been filling its budget gap recently from unrestricted funds in the endowment, it's possible that Marlboro College's endowment could still have unrestricted funds available to help fill Bridgeport's budget gaps.

  • Marlboro College has some very nice property that could be sold for a pretty penny or rented in a way to give a nice income.  After all, Marlboro has fewer than 200 students, many of whom likely could be relocated to have courses on both campuses.

  • The combined board structure will give only 15% of seats to Marlboro.  That seems like setting up to have Bridgeport run for Bridgeport's benefit.


Yes - but none of that addresses “plans call for students taking courses on both campuses,” when said campuses are 2.5 hours apart on a good day and when 63% of students commute to UofB. Commuter students don’t have a spare five hours+ a day to sit in traffic on 91 to get to class.

To nobody's surprise, the merger negotiations did not go well. IHE article.  Nobody is giving specifics, but the statements suggest that Bridgeport realized that they had a financial black hole, and that Marlboro people were not hearing a plan that involved their campus remaining open.

secundem_artem

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #158 on: September 16, 2019, 10:22:12 AM »
A very interesting article in yesterday's NY Times Magazine.  It discusses how the financial realities of admitting promising students who are from lower income quintiles runs counter to universities' oft-stated mission of helping lift people out of poverty.  One admission officer states that he is forced to turn down students he would like to admit (good GPA but no money)  while also being forced to admit students he would like to turn down (lousy GPA but willing to pay).

The article focuses primarily on the numerous private schools without deep pockets.  As for the well endowed privates (Harvard et al) apparently they provide more financial aid to the highest economic quintile than they do the lowest. I'm not sure what the situation would be like for publics.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/10/magazine/college-admissions-paul-tough.html
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Hibush

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #159 on: September 16, 2019, 02:20:58 PM »
A very interesting article in yesterday's NY Times Magazine.  It discusses how the financial realities of admitting promising students who are from lower income quintiles runs counter to universities' oft-stated mission of helping lift people out of poverty.  One admission officer states that he is forced to turn down students he would like to admit (good GPA but no money)  while also being forced to admit students he would like to turn down (lousy GPA but willing to pay).

The article focuses primarily on the numerous private schools without deep pockets.  As for the well endowed privates (Harvard et al) apparently they provide more financial aid to the highest economic quintile than they do the lowest. I'm not sure what the situation would be like for publics.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/09/10/magazine/college-admissions-paul-tough.html

A lot of the article focuses on Trinity, which has traditionally catered to the wealthy New England prep school demographic. They already had a problem before trying to offer scholarships to deserving underrepresented applicants, was that they were already having to dip in to the dolts ("underprepared and unmotivated"), and were still not raising enough net tuition. That is a difficult place to start an expensive diversification effort. Do you admit more wealthy dolts to balance the books? What does that do to the schools attractiveness to the full-pay smart kids?

It is definitely a tough situation.


One troubling part was how they used the SAT in the exact opposite way it is legitimate. The dolts who took enough test prep could get a high enough SAT to make that the academic qualifier for admission if they were full-pay. Both the applicant and the school knew they were gaming the system. Given that practice, the new admissions officer's move go to test-optional is right.

An interesting read.

larryc

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #160 on: September 16, 2019, 10:55:42 PM »
So what is going on here? Maybe the answers are in this thread and I missed them.

Why are so many small schools, most of which seem to have muddled along for a century, closing? What is the big picture explanation? The economy is good (in a way), young people are going to college. The public universities have raised tuition radically in the last decades--I would think that the private schools would be relatively more competitive. So why are they dying?

marshwiggle

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #161 on: September 17, 2019, 05:07:13 AM »
So what is going on here? Maybe the answers are in this thread and I missed them.

Why are so many small schools, most of which seem to have muddled along for a century, closing? What is the big picture explanation? The economy is good (in a way), young people are going to college. The public universities have raised tuition radically in the last decades--I would think that the private schools would be relatively more competitive. So why are they dying?

How much of it is due to students realizing they need specific qualifications, rather than a degree in anything, to be employable?  That would create much more difficulty for small places that can't offer great depth in many areas.
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polly_mer

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #162 on: September 17, 2019, 05:22:10 AM »
So what is going on here? Maybe the answers are in this thread and I missed them.

Why are so many small schools, most of which seem to have muddled along for a century, closing? What is the big picture explanation? The economy is good (in a way), young people are going to college. The public universities have raised tuition radically in the last decades--I would think that the private schools would be relatively more competitive. So why are they dying?

Short answer: almost no one wants the product they are providing at a price that ensures costs are actually being covered.  The humanities are no longer the heart of the college experience and thus, the tiny privates who are still in that model aren't competitive for enough students to cover their costs nor do those colleges have the resources to invest in the much more expensive and high demand majors.

Longer answer:  A combination of factors have changed higher ed dramatically in the past 2 decades and institutions that are waiting until now to dramatically change are too late.

1) A larger percentage of young people is going to college, but some parts of the country have far fewer young people and we haven't hit bottom yet.  Changing mission to serve returning students or continuing education generally means hiring different faculty and staff than the ones who have been the with institution for decades and aren't yet ready to retire.  The highly-motivated returning students in rural areas often choose an online program that caters to their needs over the required driving to get to the campus that has evening classes for working adults.  The market for those students is now national and a tiny little place can't compete with the good and much more diverse online programs out of the huge publics.

2) The small privates might be price competitive with public branch campuses after the huge discount rates, but the small privates are not competitive in terms of numbers of majors offered, variety of electives offered, or quality of life outside the classroom.  Super Dinky bragged about having 20 majors and 35 student groups.  A strong competitor regional comprehensive has 60 majors and 240 registered student groups.  People who are uncertain about their major or are really enthusiastic about stereotypical campus life are going to pick the place with many majors each offering dozens of electives, a solid Greek life, and better-than-high-school athletics over the quiet, make-your-own-fun-with-minimal-official-programming life.

3) Many of the costs for running an institution don't scale nicely with tiny-to-small student population.  Dropping from 1000 students to 500 students will not result in much, if any, administrative, facilities, or technology costs.  You can perhaps save on faculty if you're willing to cut majors, not replace retirees, and use a more flexible instructional workforce during any growth periods instead of committing to new faculty.  However, the effort required to do all the mandatory reporting has increased so no longer can the one individual with the registrar title be handling the day-to-day customer service for current student walk-ins and alumni requests, keeping the databases up-to-date as curriculum changes occur, and doing all the mandatory reporting to IPEDS, Student Clearinghouse, and the state Dept of Ed.  The aging facilities have a ton of deferred maintenance and that's off-putting to students who shop around and realize they can pay the same price at the regional comprehensive for climate-controlled buildings with at least some of the buildings constructed more recently than during the grandparents' college years.

4) Expectations of baseline functioning have changed with concomitant costs going up.  Students expect to have WiFi throughout campus at sufficient coverage and speed to use all their devices.  Students expect to have information online and up-to-date. While I saw a college website just the other day informing students to consult the bulletin board outside the registrar's office for the finals schedule and the list of courses for next term, that's not going to fly on most campuses.  Moodle may be no charge to acquire as the LMS, but even at 500 students, the college needs a basically full-time administrator to keep it running and a full-time someone else tasked with keeping all the hardware running.  Perhaps some professors are still typing on their electric typewriters and photocopying the results, but most faculty and staff will need computers that are less than 5 years old and moderately reliable internet access.

5) The majors students want have shifted dramatically and seldom have the tiny rural colleges that have been gracefully circling the drain for decades kept up.  "In 2016 about 45% of freshmen indicated they planned to major in an S&E field (up from about 8% in 2000); about 16% in the biological and agricultural sciences; 11% in engineering; 10% in the social and behavioral sciences; 6% in mathematics, statistics, or computer sciences; and 3% in the physical sciences." (https://nsf.gov/statistics/2018/nsb20181/report/sections/higher-education-in-science-and-engineering/undergraduate-education-enrollment-and-degrees-in-the-united-states). 

Someone who wants to major in engineering is likely mistaken, but they aren't going to a tiny college that has no engineering program.  Someone who is prepared for a lab/field science and is really thinking of a career as a scientist is not picking a tiny college with minimal facilities over the regional comprehensive that costs the same while providing better facilities and substantial undergraduate research opportunities.  Even someone who wants a humanities BA is much more likely to pick a school with a department of 10+ full-time faculty with dozens of electives and 50 other enthusiastic students majoring in that field over a department of 1-3 full-time faculty with only 5-10 other students declaring that major and that's assuming the major survived the last rounds of cuts.

6) The tiny colleges tend to think of a consolidated four-year experience on one campus with students living in dorms, Greek houses, or just off-campus and possibly working a 10h/week job on campus.  That situation describes a much smaller percentage of college students than ever before, even while the research remains that most students pick colleges that are within 50 miles of home, unless those students are attending elite universities. 

For example, the tiny colleges tend to be unfriendly to transfer students by setting up a general education curriculum that is fabulously unique, but means that most general education classes will transfer as electives.  Thus, the students who start at community colleges to save money while living at home are not going to transfer in large numbers, even if the next closest campus is significantly farther away, but costs the same.  Being transfer friendly (much easier on a larger campus) will attract those students.

The urban/suburban students who are most likely to fit the stereotype who are also used to much more activities by virtue of being in population centers of 100k+ are very unlikely to purposely go somewhere the sidewalks are rolled up by 8 PM on weeknights and 10 PM on weekends.  Again, bragging about a number of student groups that is less than the high school had is not really a selling point.

People who already have full-time or nearly full-time bill-paying jobs even as traditional-age students supporting their extended families (quite common for some first-generation communities) are not going to enroll at a remote college and hurt their families by eliminating that income.  They aren't going to move and they are unlikely to make an hour-long drive multiple times a week when online fits better into their lives.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2019, 05:40:04 AM by polly_mer »
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Hibush

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #163 on: September 17, 2019, 05:43:16 AM »
So what is going on here? Maybe the answers are in this thread and I missed them.

Why are so many small schools, most of which seem to have muddled along for a century, closing? What is the big picture explanation? The economy is good (in a way), young people are going to college. The public universities have raised tuition radically in the last decades--I would think that the private schools would be relatively more competitive. So why are they dying?

Small schools have been going out of business for 100 years or more. It is hard to tell from existing statistics whether the pace has picked up over the normal turnover.

The economic cycle matters the last couple years, but in the opposite way. When the economy is good, some potential students opt to go to work directly. When the next recession hits, and entry-level jobs get harder to find, college enrollment will increase a bit.

Urbanization is having a big effect on rural schools. Rural, small town and city-raised kids mostly want to go to school in cities. That is a worldwide phenomenon, that means rural communities really need to rethink their demographic and economic situation. The small-town college as the place to train the next group of civic and small-business leaders is not viable. This trend is increasing enrollment at urban schools, and allowing new school to open in those locations.

The original reasons to exist may be going away. Many schools were established to train teachers or clergy for the nearby region. Transportation has made it easy to go to a regional school. A lot of denominations are seeing a reduced supply of seminarians, and little willingness to subsidize the schools. Switching the program to criminal justice and nursing (fields with rural and small-town jobs) isn't going to be competitive for many of those.




polly_mer

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Re: Colleges in Dire Financial Straits
« Reply #164 on: September 17, 2019, 06:11:34 AM »
The original reasons to exist may be going away. Many schools were established to train teachers or clergy for the nearby region. Transportation has made it easy to go to a regional school. A lot of denominations are seeing a reduced supply of seminarians, and little willingness to subsidize the schools. Switching the program to criminal justice and nursing (fields with rural and small-town jobs) isn't going to be competitive for many of those.

In addition, getting faculty for criminal justice and nursing is much, much more expensive than getting comparably qualified humanities faculty willing to live in the hinterlands.  It's possible to get criminal justice faculty who earned a master's degree along the way and retire after their 20 years on the force.  However, those folks are much less likely to be enthusiastic about shared governance and many of the more academic parts of being a faculty member at a small college.  Those folks often want to interact students and profess in the classroom; those folks may even be good public speakers with public writings.  But, the retired police officer is seldom a pedagogy guru or particularly interested in any discussions related to general education other than a bland assertion that a good general education program is very useful to the average person.

Nursing is just plain expensive to run.  In addition to the graduate-trained faculty having many options and generally commanding market rates that are often double the rate for a humanities assistant professor at the same institution, the equipment has to remain state-of-the-art and arrangements have to be made for practicums with local hospitals.  Only so many practicum slots exist at any given hospital (after all, education is not the primary purpose of a small, rural hospital) and each practicum has a very low limit (often 5-8 students) based on a student/supervising faculty ratio for the good of the patients so the number of nursing faculty is usually much higher for a given number of students than almost any other program on campus.  Yes, that's correct: the most expensive faculty also have the smallest class sizes and also need to maintain an affiliation with a local hospital to ensure they can supervise practicums.
Do whatever you want--I'm just the background dancer in your show!