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The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

The student news site of Carlisle High School

Periscope

Staff Profile
Mason Neal
Mason Neal
Staff Writer

Accepted Yet Denied: How College Closures Affect Current and High School Students (Editorial)

COLLEGE CRITICS: This was the image used to break the news to current and applied students of the closure The College of Saint Rose. Throughout this article are the comments the colleges Instagram account was met with when posting this image on their page.
Jillian Grimes
COLLEGE CRITICS: This was the image used to break the news to current and applied students of the closure The College of Saint Rose. Throughout this article are the comments the colleges Instagram account was met with when posting this image on their page.

The perfect college, the perfect programs, the perfect location. The thing that almost every senior is trying to find. Surrounded by the pressure and tension of waiting for college decisions, financial aid, and scholarship awards, more stress is added onto students when all the perfection slips right between their fingers. 

As a high school senior myself, I had my dream college picked out since the end of my sophomore year. All of the programs and experiences I wanted, that could have easily fast tracked my learning and gotten me involved with the topics I was interested in much faster than another college could. It was the first college I applied to, the only college I had on my list when I asked for a letter of recommendation from my journalism advisor, genuinely the only college I had on my mind, dead set. 

And on November 25, 2023, I received my acceptance packet. I had my mom record me opening the envelope, even though it read “It’s a yes from us” on the outside. Reading through my academic scholarship that was bigger than any other school I had received. Every other college immediately dropped from my mind. I was done, my college decision process was over. I displayed the pennant I had received on my bookshelf with pride.

But it wasn’t over yet. Not even a week later, November 30, 2023, I scrolled on Instagram before I was leaving school early; the first post appearing on my screen, “The College of Saint Rose Important Announcement,” as I read the caption.

“Heartbreaking news”

“Cease academic instruction”

“Beyond June 2024”

It was what felt like my world crumbled beneath my feet. Everything had panned out and then in an instant had disappeared.

Declining enrollment, financial struggles, rising tuition costs and the questioning on the actual value of a degree are all reasons for small institution closures to be on the rise; it’s also no secret that the COVID pandemic was and continues to be a point for the closure of many colleges.

As reported by BestColleges, a combined 48 public or non-profit schools have announced closures or mergers since March 2020. Broken down, 28 schools closed and 20 merged with another similar school. The majority of these schools had less than 3,000 enrolled, on the high end and on the low end just 59 students enrolled.

Another take on low college enrollment is due to the declining birth rates during the Great Recession in 2008, also referred to as “the demographic cliff”. Denise Dagnino, the Director of Communications at Saint Rose also spoke to this element saying, “Most independent colleges and universities rely on student enrollment as a primary source of revenue; however, there is a “demographic cliff” nationally.” Dagnino further explained, “This means there are fewer traditional-age, college-bound students in the U.S., so the pool of new students has diminished overall.”

 Micheal Horn, author of Choosing College, speaks to this phenomenon as well; Horn believes that colleges will be seeing “the real uptick” after 2025 in terms of declining enrollment.

After a closure the majority of an institution’s students did not re-enroll in another program at all (52.9%), students who experienced an abrupt closure, without warning or an immediate transfer plan for students, had even lower re-enrollment than students who experienced an orderly closure. This abrupt process and absence of planning for schools in financial distress heavily affects the students. They are not given the resources to thrive in a college environment, they are not given options for months and are left with the stress of classes, debt, and the college process all over again, while still trying to maintain the grades they need to transfer. 

During an assembly at Saint Rose on December 3, 2023, with President Marcia White, many students spoke to their upset about the need of financial transparency and what many students have called a lack of empathy with this very abrupt closure.

One student shared, “This goes farther than the board meeting. You knew that we were in debt, long before the board meeting. This doesn’t just happen overnight. So to sit here and say this all happens from the board meeting is untrue. […] This is an ongoing, long term problem that happened before Friday,” they said.

Another spoke of wanting an apology, from White and the board(s), specific to the students saying “I get that this has been a long problem, but you guys were not transparent with us at all. I would not have come here in 2020 given the financial situation. Just say it, apologize.”

White followed with, “The board had every expectation that the plans that they had in place, and many of them that I shared on Friday, the step-by-step plan that we put in place. We felt that there was going to be of the expectation that it would be successful.” She added, “I apologize for the fact that you’re feeling very awful. I’m sorry for what you have to say, I have never been untruthful and, I don’t apologize for that.” 

While this information was leaked to the press immediately after voting, some level of accountability by the institution and their board should be held in terms of withholding information. For current students, applying students, and staff alike, it is felt that this information should have been publicly stated at least before the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.

These “interview” videos were met with a lot of traction from current students, alumni, and general community members, as upset with White’s what they called “lack of empathy”.

The shortfall of communication and transparency, even with admissions staff, in particular with Saint Rose, is shown by their Early Action acceptances. Sending students acceptances that they will receive a week before a make or break board meeting. Applied students did not receive an email until December 8, 2023, over a week after information had been released.

In 5 lines in an email, it was really over. 

“We truly appreciate your interest in making Saint Rose part of your educational plan – and we are confident that you’ll succeed at any academic institution you choose. Best of luck in all your future endeavors.” 

Disclaimer: Articles designated as “Editorial” represent the views and opinions of the author, not the 2023-2024 Periscope staff, CHS/CASD administration, or the CHS student body.

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About the Contributor
Jillian Grimes, News Editor
Jillian is a Senior at Carlisle High School, this is her fourth year being a member of the Periscope staff. She is very excited to return to the staff for her last year. She likes to listen to music, read psychological thrillers and hike with family. She has always had a love for journalism and photography and she is excited to publish and share her work with others in the community this year. Jillian is thrilled to see what this year has to offer and work alongside the new staff members for her final year!
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