The year is 2027.
A lone tumbleweed rolls across what was once the quad of St. Michael’s College, which was long ago repurposed as a parking lot. Many of the brick buildings that once made up campus have been knocked down, or bought out by the highest bidder. The Hoehl Welcome Center, which once served as the doormat of the college, has since been turned into a very popular Chipotle restaurant, staffed mostly by former St. Michael’s students. To save on paper, napkins are made entirely out of the alumni’s now useless degrees, which are now solely used to wipe off that bit of sour cream that fell on your chin.
What could have happened to create such a nightmarish scenario? Well, it’s the reality of life when a college shuts its doors for good. “But wait!” I hear you say, “Surely my school would never shut down!” Alas, you are not the first to speak these hopeful words. Simply ask a student of the former Burlington College, which collapsed last year under the weight of insurmountable debt. Current students were forced to transfer to a different school, where oftentimes many of their hard-earned credits amounted to zilch. Alumni also weren’t unscathed by the shutting down of their old school, as degrees from colleges that shut down often aren’t viewed as particularly valid by many employers. Though St. Michael’s has managed to stay afloat thus far, its multi-million dollar deficit combined with the closing of North Campus and the letting go of multiple teachers doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in its ability to stay alive in the long-term.
“Well,” you retort, a little more nervously this time, “Even if that does happen, at least I won’t have to pay back all those loans, right? Right?” Wrong. According to consumerfinance.org, you will most likely be responsible for paying back all of your private and federal loans, regardless of whether or not you received your degree. In other words, you just spent thousands upon thousands of dollars to go to school for how to permanently put yourself in debt.
Let us return to the wasteland that is St. Michael’s 2027. A tattered Mike the Knight costume rests half-buried in what once was the Word Garden, where students would gather to make funny phrases with their friends and relax on a sunny day. Now, it’s little more than a pile of rubble, with only the faded remains of a rock that reads “Hope” standing testament to its former glory. And over by the 300’s field, where once there were exciting games to be played and beers to be drank, now exists as a retirement community for the elderly on a budget. Truly, a sad sight to behold.
So what was the cause of this tragic loss? Some point their fingers to the cutting of several LSC’s, others to an oversight which caused the administration to accidentally accept 2,137 incoming freshman in 2019. Whatever the cause, those mourning their lost futures come to a lone tombstone resting on the library lawn that reads, “Here lies St. Michael’s College, 1904 – 2024.”