Small colleges face fight for survival

15 Apr

College Data describes what is meant by a small college in the post, College Size: Small, Medium or Large?

Colleges Considered Small, Medium, or Large
• Colleges considered “small” have fewer than 5,000 students. These are typically private colleges like Hobart, Colgate, Grinnell, and Reed. Yet, it is entirely possible to find small public colleges, such as SUNY Geneseo and Delaware State University.
• Many colleges fall into the “medium” category, between 5,000 to 15,000 students. Yale, Brown, Howard, Duke, University of Arkansas, University of Montana, and Binghamton University are all medium-sized.
• “Large” usually means more than 15,000 students. University of Southern California, New York University, and University of Pennsylvania qualify as large on the private side; UCLA, Michigan State, and University of Texas at Austin on the public side. A label of “huge” would be more accurate for those public universities that have more than 30,000 students.
The Social Side of College Size
Deciding between a large college and a small college often comes down to the social environment you prefer. Knowing whether you feel more comfortable as “a small fish in a big pond” or a “big fish in a small pond” can help you make a decision.
• Smaller schools can easily set the stage for camaraderie and team spirit. You can get to know just about everybody in a small school, and see familiar faces whether you are in the library, the cafeteria, the quad, or in class.
• Larger colleges may seem impersonal on the surface, but most offer many opportunities to become part of a smaller community of students with common interests. You may need a bit of self-control to say “no” to all the socializing that tempts you away from your studies.
Small Colleges Don’t Have a Monopoly on Small Classes
Small colleges are more likely to offer classes with fewer students, enabling professors to give students more individual attention. At larger colleges, classes may be more lecture-oriented. But many such classes are supported by lively discussion sessions. Also, university honors programs can provide a small-class environment…. https://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_choosearticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10006

There should not be a one-size-fits-all in education. Many small colleges are facing financial challenges which they may not survive.

Michael McDonald of Bloomberg reported in the article, Small U.S. Colleges Battle Death Spiral as Enrollment Drops:

Dozens of schools have seen drops of more than 10 percent in enrollment, according to Moody’s. As faculty and staff have been cut and programs closed, some students have faced a choice between transferring or finishing degrees that may have diminished value…
The number of private four-year colleges that have closed or were acquired doubled from about five a year before 2008 to about 10 in the four years through 2011, according to a study last year by researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, citing federal data. Plus, among all colleges, 37 merged in the three years through 2013, more than triple the number from 2006 to 2009, according to Higher Education Publications Inc., a Reston, Virginia-based directory publisher.
‘Difficult Steps’
“There will clearly be some institutions that won’t make it and there will be some institutions that will be stronger because of going through these difficult steps,” said David Warren, president of the Washington-based National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities….
Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen has predicted that as many as half of the more than 4,000 universities and colleges in the U.S. may fail in the next 15 years. The growing acceptance of online learning means higher education is ripe for technological upheaval, he has said…
“I’m not sure a lot of these institutions have the cushion to experiment with how to stay afloat,” said Michelle Weise, a senior research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a think tank the Harvard professor helped establish in San Mateo, California.
Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, said in January that it would discontinue six majors, said Lisa Murray, a spokeswoman for the school, which has about 1,400 undergraduates.
Ratings Cut
Net tuition revenue fell 14 percent to $30.3 million last year from 2009 as Franklin Pierce boosted financial aid to attract freshmen and keep students from transferring. Standard & Poor’s cut the Rindge, New Hampshire-based school’s credit rating last year to B, five steps below investment grade, from BB. Moody’s reduced its rating to B3 from B1 the year prior.
“Disheartening is certainly a valid term,” said Carl Brezovec, a math professor whose program will no longer be offered as a major, the second time it’s been cut in a decade.
Ashland University, a 136-year-old college in Ohio, reduced tuition by about $11,000 — and direct aid commensurately — for the coming school year, with the goal that a lower-tuition/lower-discount model will eliminate sticker shock and lure students. In November, Moody’s downgraded Ashland’s rating to Caa2, eight levels below investment grade, saying the probability it will default has increased after three years of enrollment declines….
Enrollment Targets
Even wealthier schools are working to plug budget gaps. Yeshiva University in New York, which has a $1.2 billion endowment, has been selling real estate around its campus.
Some colleges are looking beyond belt-tightening for more permanent solutions. Morgan State University in Baltimore, a historically black college, is targeting more Hispanic applicants and those of other ethnicities, according to Moody’s. Chatham University in Pittsburgh, whose undergraduate program is women-only, said in February it was considering going co-ed to boost enrollment.
All of the schools in the Vanderbilt study that closed in recent years were small, with fewer than 1,000 students and average assets of less than $50 million. Most had endowments of about $1 million. Many were religious, such as Bethany University in Scotts Valley, California, which shut in 2011. Some folded into other colleges such as Southern New England School of Law, whose assets were acquired by the University of Massachusetts in 2010.
Investment Return
“We haven’t hit bottom yet,” said Glenn Harlan Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and author of the book, “The New School: How the Information Age Will Save American Education From Itself.” Students are shopping for a less expensive education as the cost of college has increased and the job market worsened, he said.
“It’s a question of return on investment,” Reynolds said.
Declining enrollment has forced many colleges to offer deeper tuition discounts to attract students, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The average freshman discount rate rose to 45 percent in 2012 from about 40 percent in 2008, according to Nacubo.
Moody’s found that expenses are outpacing revenue at 60 percent of the schools it tracks even as many try to slash their way to balanced budgets, according to Fitzgerald…. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-14/small-u-s-colleges-battle-death-spiral-as-enrollment-drops.html

See, Private Distress
http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/12/09/private-colleges-remain-under-weather#sthash.7bwQsW2G.dpbs

Related articles:
Tuition Revenue Down http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/11/25/tuition-revenue-not-keeping-pace-inflation-4-10-four-year-universities#sthash.vbeRKUy0.dpbs

Downgrading Elite Colleges http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/08/30/prestigious-liberal-arts-colleges-face-ratings-downgrades#sthash.qQCJGwgf.dpbs

Don’t Panic … Yet http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/08/27/sallie-mae-survey-highlights-changing-marketplace-students#sthash.057z48ft.dpbs

Big Trouble, Potentially, for Little Colleges http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/10/17/big-trouble-potentially-little-colleges#sthash.UgmCpDVF.dpbs

Revenue Dip for Private Colleges http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/11/03/moodys#sthash.lfor4RtI.dpbs
There are many reasons to go to a small college.

Jeremy S. Hyman and Lynn F. Jacobs wrote in the U.S. News article, 10 Reasons to Go to a Small College:

1. You get small classes. Unlike large research universities where you could regularly find yourself in lecture halls with many hundreds of other students, at a small college you’ll rarely be in classes of more than 50 students; in most cases two-thirds of your classes will have fewer than 20 students. (Again, the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings include the percentage of classes under 20 at each school.) The small class environment will give you a much greater opportunity to ask questions, participate in discussion, and have a professor who actually knows who you are. It’s always nice to be a real person, rather than a nameless spectator in the crowd of a mega-university.
[Search for the best school for you.]
2. All the teaching is done by professors. Since most small colleges only grant undergraduate degrees, they don’t have graduate students. And if you don’t have graduate students, you don’t have to stick graduate students in the classroom to get trained on how to be a professor. This means that you won’t have to deal with inexperienced TA’s teaching your class. (It doesn’t mean that you might not get stuck with inexperienced young professors. But with many colleges “tenured in,” and with not much chance for professors to change jobs in this ultra-tight economy, there should be fewer beginning professors compared to the steady stream of green graduate students coming into the research university.)
[Read 10 Warning Signs of a Bad Professor.]
3. Your professors will be more committed to teaching. At many research universities, “publish or perish” is still the phrase of the day. As a result, professors there who seek tenure and promotion have to make research their No. 1 priority and teaching, at best, No. 2….
4. Your work will be evaluated more carefully. In larger schools, professors, TA’s, and/or graders have to rush through huge stacks of papers and exams to grade (that is, when they haven’t relegated the grading to a computer), so they don’t have much time to offer feedback and suggestions on individual pieces of work….
5. You’ll have a chance to write more papers. Grading papers is quite time consuming and papers are one of the first things to go when an instructor is faced with a large class. The limited size of classes at small colleges, though, makes it possible for professors to assign more written work (or other sorts of projects)….
6. You’ll have more opportunity for one-on-one contact with your professor. At the big universities, your professor may just be a speck in the distance, someone you would never dare approach….
7. You’ll have more freedom in the curriculum. Often smaller colleges are more flexible about requirements and give you more leeway to construct programs that meet your individual interests….
8. You’ll have more opportunities to collaborate with a professor. At larger schools, the are endless hordes of graduate students waiting in line to partner with a professor in his or her research program. At smaller schools, it’s the undergraduates who are called upon to look up the sources, help conduct the experiments, and often even write up—or present at a conference—the findings with the professor…..
9. You’ll face less bureaucracy. At small colleges you will be spared the endless lines at registration, the hand-to-hand combat to get into closed classes, and the sprinting between innumerable offices to try to get your simplest questions answered. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?
10. You get the feeling that you count. Large universities can be very alienating places. There it’s easy to feel that no one cares about you and whether you learn anything. At most small colleges, they have room to care. Group hug, anyone? http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/professors-guide/2010/07/28/10-reasons-to-go-to-a-small-college

A college degree is no guarantee of either employment or continued employment. Still, because of the economic uncertainty there is an “arms race” in education. Laura Pappano is reporting in the New York Times article, The Master’s As the New Bachelor’s Whether a person chooses to attend a four year college after high school is a very personal decision and there is no one right answer. One thing the current economic climate has taught many is there are no guarantees in life, even with a college degree. https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/08/15/georgetown-university-study-even-in-a-depression-college-grads-enjoy-advantage/

Related:
That Facebook post may affect your college acceptance
https://drwilda.com/tag/that-facebook-post-may-affect-your-college-acceptance/

More colleges are putting college applicants on mid-year acceptance for enrollment
https://drwilda.com/tag/students-may-be-accepted-to-college-but-for-spring-admission/

Study: Prior criminal behavior does not necessarily predict behavior on campus
https://drwilda.com/tag/college-admission-questions-rarely-identify-criminal-behavior/

Is a woman’s college the right college for you?
https://drwilda.com/2012/08/20/is-a-womans-college-the-right-college-for-you/

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