I used to think it was a decent enough school, and now:
Sweet Briar College announced today that it is shutting down at the end of this academic year.
Small colleges close or merge from time to time, more frequently since the economic downturn started in 2008. But the move is unusual in that Sweet Briar still has a $94 million endowment, regional accreditation and some well-respected programs. But college officials said that the trend lines were too unfavorable, and that efforts to consider different strategies didn’t yield any viable options. So the college decided to close now, with some sense of order, rather than dragging out the process for several more years, as it could have done.
The story is here, and this is not the last such event of its kind. Why is it failing financially? Here is one take:
Sweet Briar officials cited overarching challenges that the college has been unable to handle: the lack of interest from female high school students in attending a women’s college like Sweet Briar, declining interest in liberal arts colleges generally and declining interest in attending colleges in rural areas. Sweet Briar is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. “We are 30 minutes from a Starbucks,” said James F. Jones Jr., president of the college.
It seems to me that many other small colleges are in a far worse position, but are instead papering over the cracks, for how long I do not know. Update: This revised version of the story has additional information.