Are mergers the last hope of survival for small colleges?
- Jeff Selingo writes in the Washington Post about the growing need for colleges with fewer than 1,000 students to consider consolidation as a path towards survival, as total national enrollment has fallen by more than 5% since 2010.
- He references a report which suggests that more than 700 colleges are too small to see a viable trajectory of growth, noting the majority of the 72 colleges to close in the last decade all had enrollments below 1,000 students.
- Alignment with industry and population are strong indicators of whether a college can survive.
Selingo's points are well taken, but do not consider several factors like the increasing costs of college education, or the increasing number of families who cannot afford four-year education for the duration of a college career. However, it is true that some institutions have not kept pace in making their academic profiles and enrollment management strategies aligned with today's industrial demands.
But some campuses and their communities are likely to continue to thrive, even with fewer than 1,000 students. Fisk University in metropolitan Nashville, TN is an example of an institution with fewer than 1,000 students, but a strong profile in booming STEM industries. With the right leadership to cultivate the right investment, it could, much in the way Sweet Briar College did, renew its value and grow as an institution — despite doomsday predictions and dire metrics.
- Washington Post The coming era of consolidation among colleges and universities