We clearly hit “peak education” a few years ago, and overall college student population has been dropping for years now. The for-profits have taken the brunt of this, though that’s more of a technicality—those schools are being regularly closed as frauds. Amongst the “legit” schools (and bear with me on that classification), the community colleges are losing students despite remaining open. They’ve lost around 20% of their student base in the last 5 years.
Next on the hit list are the small liberal arts colleges. These schools were, historically, always in a fragile position. With only a few thousand students, they survived by having a good initial endowment and low overhead, keeping administrative costs down. Less historically, the student loan scam caused them (and every other school) to boom, in tuition if not in size. That huge influx of money could have been used to pay down debt, to focus on scholarship, to put them in a position to weather the incoming apocalypse which will occur whenever the student loan scam finally ends.
Unfortunately, their small size made these schools particularly vulnerable to both the major problems affecting our schools: plunderers and ideologues. Once only a few of these rascals get in, they open the door for their colleagues…a century of quality work can be annihilated in a few short years as together they’ll work to destroy a school for their own personal ends.
I’ve covered a few such schools dying this way, but a recent article mentions other reasons for the destruction of schools which should have been able to last a few more decades, if not centuries. It’s easy to see these other reasons are wrong, of course, but let’s get to it:
Why Liberal Arts Colleges Are Starting to Go Under
Now, the title is general, but they focus on just a few schools, notably Hampshire College, established 1965. The article doesn’t clarify, but this school is fairly close to four other very similar schools, all charging major bucks ($40k or more a year, at least on paper) to educate students. This is another problem with higher education today: we have a glut. In addition to internet schools (of dubious quality, to be sure) offering their wares to anyone with electricity, just about every population center has half a dozen or more 4-year schools within 50 miles of it.
The student loan scam has caused our schools to “institutionalize” growth of the pay and quantity of their administrators. That was fine in the past, but now that the potential student base is dropping, these schools are hitting a wall. The only way they can continue growth is to cannibalize students going to other schools, and that level of competitiveness just doesn’t generate the kind of profits necessary to support a huge leadership caste.
Hampshire College, for example, has about 1300 students..and 115 administrators/staff. We’re basically looking at one “leader” for every 11 students. When one considers that many admin/staff are called faculty in order to keep the faculty/student ratio down (hi all library staff!), we’re looking at quite the excess of leadership there.
The school has the other problem I discussed above as well:
Not too long ago, Hampshire was the kind of place where the average student was a lesbian with blue hair. But recently, it became the kind of place where the average student is a BLACK lesbian with blue hair.
The Social Justice Warrior (SJW) takeover of our campuses is rough on the student base. If you love that stuff, you’re set, but if not, you want to get off campus as soon as possible. Part of the reason for this is SJWs are never, ever, happy. Even if the whole school is infested, it’s not enough:
In Hampshire’s case, hilariously, the students condemned the place (which was already top 1% in SJWism) as a haven of racism and sexism and would approach kids on tours and tell them NOT to come for this reason.
“Get woke, go broke” is a truism for a reason, as a school infested with SJWs gets hammered coming and going. Imagine being not interested in “Social Justice,” going to this campus, and having one of the blue-hairs tell you what a horrible place this is. You’ll leave and go to the next school down the road.
If you’re into SJW stuff, well, now you’re obligated to leave, because you don’t want to go to a “haven of RACISM,” right? So, how fares recruiting on this campus?
Only 13 new students showed up at Hampshire this fall.
Wow. Even an administrator should be able to “crunch the numbers” and see the place is doomed unless they scale back, and scale back sharply, eliminating every superfluous position (i.e., much of the administrative staff), consolidating as many positions as possible (e.g., having faculty with empty classrooms take over the remaining administrative positions), and prepare to dip into savings to weather the oncoming drought (I bet that money is already spent on palaces and golden parachutes, however). I honestly don’t see how a school can lose 99% of its student base and survive without drastic action, although as yet the school hasn’t decided what, if anything, is worth doing.
Have I mentioned how grotesquely overpaid admin is, considering how ineffectual they are?
Anyway, the article somehow skips over the obvious issues of having more than one admin for every dozen students, there being far too many schools, and only barely touches on the whole SJWs destroy all they touch thing.
On the other hand, the article mentions demographics: the U.S. just doesn’t have enough upper class people producing kids who can afford the skyrocketing tuition. Yes, this ignores the fact that the only reason tuition is so high is because the schools blew all the money on palaces and vice-presidents…tuition wasn’t this ridiculously high 30 years ago, after all. Honest, there really was a time when the campus president didn’t arrive in a chauffeured limousine, and was given a house on campus because that would save money on his salary. Now campus presidents have private jets…
The article uses demographic projections to “predict” many school closings in the next decade or so, but honest, demographics aren’t nearly as core to what happened as the edu-fascist takeover. Many of the schools which will close opened in a time when the US population was much smaller.
Strangely, the article says perhaps the schools can save themselves by importing “zillions”’ of Asians. While not as clearly wrong as the demographics claims, it’s still wrong. In times past, the “China problem,” where it was known that country could theoretically overwhelm our system, has long since been solved. The Chinese aren’t nearly so interested in paying a fortune to get into any school at all in the US, particularly schools which clearly care more about ideology than education.
They can get ideology in their own country, and China is already expanding their own educational system. I sure hope they can learn from our mistakes….