Although Corinthian Colleges LLC had been struggling for months, students of 150-year-old Heald College were not prepared for Corinthian to pull the plug, especially so close to the end of the school year.
According to a press statement from Corinthian Colleges, Inc., dated April 26, Corinthian was unable to sell Heald, like it had for several of its other campuses across the United States: “The Company said these efforts were unsuccessful largely as a result of federal and state regulators seeking to impose financial penalties and conditions on buyers and teach-out partners.” Essentially, Corinthian is stating they were unable to sell Heald as a result of the federal and state government imposing financial penalties on anyone interested.
Fortunately for Heald students, Clackamas Community College staff readied a response team to talk to the students about options to continue their educations without losing too much time and money.
“I was simply one member of a rapid response team sent from CCC to be present as Heald students returned to their campus to retrieve their belongings and copies of their Heald transcripts,” said Tawnya Stauffer, student support and enrollment coordinator, in an email. “My primary mission was to help students understand their financial aid issues and resources. Others on our team were available to review transcripts and talk about enrollment and various programs available at CCC.”
Once the response team looked over transcripts, the next step was to see how their credits fit into the programs available at CCC. Unfortunately, because it was halfway through CCC spring term when Heald suddenly closed, Heald students planning on graduating this spring were unable to finish on time.
“I don’t think any of the students were able to transfer and complete this term,” said Tara Sprehe, associate dean for enrollment and student services, in an email. “Most of our programs required additional credits to complete a CCC degree/certificate, but we worked with each department to speed up the process as quickly as possible so they can graduate soon.”
Understandably, this process was stressful for all involved.
“The experience was awful!” Sprehe said. “I have worked in higher education for 25 years and have never been so depressed trying to help students. They were understandably sad, angry, frustrated and in shock. To suddenly have their college close was awful for them and the faculty and staff that supported them.”
According to Stauffer, despite the work being put in to helping the Heald students, there is still a journey ahead: “I can only imagine the process has been quite arduous for these students … they have some work ahead, no matter how they decide to proceed.”
As these Heald students (hopefully future CCC students) prepare to climb back to graduation, they are left with few real answers, just confusion and a sympathetic press release: “Neither our Board of Directors, our management, our faculty, nor our students believe these schools deserved to be forced to close,” wrote Jack Massimino, Corinthian’s Chief Executive Officer, in the release.
CCC staff are still working to help students get back on their feet.
“While it felt great to be part of a process to try to help them as best we could, we should never have been in that situation in the first place,” Stauffer said.
Story by: Cassidy Scott