College mergers have quickly become a common answer to the slew of problems that many institutions are facing today. With the number of mergers rapidly increasing in recent years, many students and communities are left wondering: Why are colleges failing?
The main reason is due to financial strain. The pandemic left many institutions with no choice but to close their doors for indefinite periods of time. Nearly $80 billion that the US government invested to help universities survive. Reports show that as many as 500 4-year colleges are at risk of closure in the near future. On top of that, enrollment is declining, dropping by more than 9% since the pandemic which equates to nearly 1.4 million students. Fewer US adults even consider a college degree to be “very important” anymore. Employers are not valuing that education as much anymore, colleges are seeing an across the board rapid decline in overall interest.
Some colleges have chosen to close their doors permanently. Many choose to merge with others and find a way to move forward. The process is grueling. Once approved, many institutions will merge with others locally, across the country, online, or even internationally. Consolidation is also an option, which involves restructuring and streamlining operations to reduce competition for students. Schools most at risk are small, same-state institutions. Studies have revealed that public colleges may also find themselves on the chopping block. Long term effects of these college mergers are detrimental to student culture and experience. It leaves thousands if not millions of students across the US on the edge of their seat, awaiting the fate of their own institution.