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Less than half of students whose colleges abruptly close go on to enroll elsewhere

Less than half of students whose colleges abruptly close go on to enroll elsewhere

Higher Ed Dive

Natalie Schwartz
November 15, 2022
Dive Brief: 
  • Less than half of students whose colleges close end up reenrolling in another institution, and only about one-third of that group go on to earn a credential, according to a new analysis from two higher education organizations.
  • The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center teamed up with the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association to examine how students fare after their colleges close — especially when they do so without warning. Their findings suggest that closures add to the population of students who leave college without earning credentials.
  • Students who experienced abrupt closures had worse reenrollment rates than their peers whose colleges closed in an orderly manner. For instance, 40% of students whose colleges suddenly closed reenrolled elsewhere, compared to 63.7% of students who reenrolled after orderly closures.
Dive Insight: 
The new research offers one of the first detailed looks at how college closures affect the students who experience them. The findings suggest college shutdowns — especially sudden ones — can derail students’ higher education goals and delay their academic progress.
“It is a serious hardship for the students,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, during a call Monday with reporters. “The data are pretty clear on that.”
The research covers July 2004 to June 2020, a period during which nearly 12,000 campuses closed. It looked at closures at 467 institutions covering 143,000 students. Over 100,000 of those students attended colleges that closed abruptly.
The effects aren’t felt evenly. Nearly 83% of students who experienced closures were studying at for-profit colleges. The majority of students faced sudden closures rather than ones conducted in an orderly fashion.
The researchers defined orderly closures as those in which the institution kept student records and completed a teach-out plan, which describe where students can transfer their credits and finish their credentials.
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