By Paige Falk
College enrollment rates are plummeting causing permanent campus closures, and raising challenges for students. More than 600 colleges either closed or merged from 2014 to 2020 according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics. From spring 2020 to spring 2022, college enrollment dropped by almost 1.3 million students, according to Keller Moore, author of the article “Did You Know? College Closures Are On the Rise.”
The University of Findlay enrollment numbers increased in the Fall of 2022 and while the University has not come close to closing, it has filled the gap for students left school-less after a sudden closure.
Tanner Rickle was one of those students taken into the University of Findlay when his previous college, Urbana University, suddenly closed.
“I was really surprised and caught off guard,” Rickle said. “It didn’t feel real at first”.
The problem is essentially because the demand for college is decreasing while the cost of college is increasing as stated by Moore. The student body of America is shrinking; however, campus closures still have big impacts on remaining students wanting to finish out their education. Many students have had to pack up and head to another school to finish their education.
Kristen Lindsay, the Director of Institutional Research and Assessment at the University of Findlay states that the main reason for colleges closing is essentially an imbalance in the tuition price and the enrollment of students.
Nevertheless, there are some tactics colleges may try to prevent permanent closure. Lindsay states that colleges might try to reduce their offerings like sports teams or degrees for example. Sometimes colleges will have staff-lay-offs, or even downsize facilities, while other colleges may try to out-source, or merge to try to prevent closure all together.
Rickle, a former football player at Urbana University was devastated when finding out the news that UU was permanently closing. Rickle not only had to figure out what he would do to continue his studies, but also was determined to find another spot on a different football team. Rickle states that Coach Rob Keys [former UF football Coach] had called him right away after finding out the news of Urbana closing.
In terms of academic challenges, Rickle admits he did lose a few credits in the transferring process and had to adapt to a new flow and style of learning.
“It was tough to get used to,” Rickle said.
Another student, Kaylee Ellis had to overcome the transferring process due to Urbana’s sudden closure. Ellis, a current student lacrosse player at UF, was once committed to go to UU.
She graduated high school in 2020 when it was announced that UU would permanently close. It left her behind in trying to find another school after her plans were derailed. Because she had not yet attended the school, receiving the same help as a current student there wasn’t an option either.
Ellis states that she was immediately put in a state of panic and stress when finding out the shocking news.
“I never considered that UU would suddenly close,” Ellis said. “My vision of where I was going to college suddenly was taken away, along with my future teammates and roommate”.
“College closures are a loss, and most students will go through a period of grieving,” Lindsay said. She says most schools will try and offer their best support through advisors, and guide them through the process.