For most people, colleges represent a way to move forward in society. They’re a beacon of hope that anyone, through hard work and dedication, can use to educate themselves and secure a better life. It’s not terribly common that people think of all the struggles and dynamics around a college running and staying afloat. Although recently, these struggles have forced themselves into the limelight.
In the time period between 2016 and 2019, 86 colleges shut down or merged with other universities. Between 2019 and 2020 alone, 53 colleges closed down and haven’t returned since. Universities already work on historically low margins, and COVID made it incredibly hard for any college to stay positive. Today in 2022 colleges also see notably low enrollment rates.
From 2019 to 2021, college enrollment saw its largest drop in the last 50 years at 7.8%. Put simply, college is costing more, degrees are returning less, and the kids of today are looking into other options. It’s an unfortunate cycle, as less kids enroll, colleges have less resources, and college is a less appealing option to those applying. Although it’s certainly not unsurprising.
So while this all paints a bleak outlook, it’s not all hopeless. Colleges are constantly looking into better ways to use students’ money and time, student debt is being reduced, something that will put a large positive spotlight on universities, and the more prestigious universities of today are actually seeing increases in enrollment. While the current system is likely unsustainable, there’s so much that can be done to change that.