Sweet Briar students left Friday. Will they ever return?

Faculty, alumni, county attorney continue the fight to keep it open

As classes wrapped up for the last time at Sweet Briar College, the mood on campus was much more somber than the usual springtime vibe, Jasmine Garsd reports for NPR.

In March, the school announced that it will close at the end of this academic year because of "insurmountable financial challenges." Since 2009, Sweet Briar's enrollment and yield rate have declined while its discount rate rose sharply. So not only were fewer students paying to attend, but those students were also paying less.

The move forced students to find new institutions at which to continue their studies in the fall. Sweet Briar officials partnered with other liberal arts colleges in the region to smooth the transfer pathway, such as Virginia Commonwealth University and Agnes Scott College. But for some, the process still has not been finalized.

It is "pretty awful," says freshman Brittany Crawford, who explains she is stressed not only over finals, but also finding an institution that will match her financial aid package at Sweet Briar. "I don't even know where I'm going yet. Hopefully the alumni will help me out," she says.

Other students lament that they will now be moving back into co-ed classrooms.

"Teachers, professors in particular, can be sexist, and when you remove boys from the situations, you got more support," says Christina Seay, a sophomore at Sweet Briar.

She will transfer to Randolph College come fall, where she will receive a similar financial aid package.  But that does not change the fact that she will be losing her school.

"Two years without having to deal with boys in a classroom have been two very good years for me," she says. "I'm going to miss it a lot."

However, some faculty members and alumni are not giving up on blocking the school's closure. Faculty have filed a lawsuit, the county attorney filed a lawsuit, and an alumna filed a lawsuit, and all are seeking to stop the school from shuttering. Alumni launched a crowdfunding campaign as well, and Virginia's Attorney General has offered to mediate a compromise (Garsd, "npr Ed," NPR, 5/8).

The takeaway: Sweet Briar College is about to close, leaving many students unsure of or unsatisfied with transfer processes.

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