Mergers: The Hack Saving Colleges From Destruction by@brianwallace

Mergers: The Hack Saving Colleges From Destruction

In 2013 70% of U.S adults saw a college degree as important, by 2019, that number dropped to 51%. One sixth of all college grads earn less than the high school graduate, even after ten years of work. Colleges are not as strong of an institution as they used to be, and for some, combining may help facilitate a return to form. It may be unfair to say a college merger is ‘saving’ anything, but in times of struggle there are few better alternatives than a merger.
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Brian Wallace

Founder @ NowSourcing | Contributor at Hackernoon | Advisor: Google Small Biz, SXSW

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COVID-19 saw colleges close at rates never before seen in American history. Four year colleges saw a 6% enrollment decline, two year colleges saw a 16% percent enrollment decline, and almost 40% of college students delayed or continue to delay plans due to uncertainty around finances and lockdowns. 

On top of this, colleges had already seen enrollment rates and the value of a degree in general start to drop. In 2013 70% of U.S adults saw a college degree as important, by 2019, right before the pandemic, that number dropped to 51%. This change in perception isn’t baseless either, one sixth of all college grads earn less than the high school graduate, even after ten years of work.

This puts colleges into a scary situation, and that’s reflected in the increased rates of closures over the past few years. Luckily, there’s one alternative that has been saving dozens of colleges over the past few years, college mergers

First off, it may be unfair to say a college merger is “saving” anything. They are a last-ditch effort to keep a college afloat, even at the expense of combining with another, but the differences between a complete college closure and merger are near endless. College closures can see the complete destruction of files and documents, lay-offs of all staff, and leave students feeling abandoned and aimless.

College mergers instead work by generally getting the approval of all involved, from administrators to faculty to alumni. They give students a place to go, faculty a job, and can happen on a local, national, international, or even digital scale. It’s no wonder they’ve risen in popularity by 21% from 2018-2022. 

Although mergers are certainly not perfect. Students tend to have little say in what happens to their college as it merges. The identity of a college also tends to become cloudy or completely lost as they merge with another. And an increase in cost is almost inevitable for any merger that happens. There are certainly reasons for students to not want to transfer to a newly merged school.

Still, in times of struggle there are few better alternatives than a merger. Colleges are not as strong of an institution as they used to be, and for some, combining may help facilitate a return to form. Education is the backbone of any progressive society, any efforts to help education flourish should be supported.

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