COLUMBIA, S.C. (courtesy columbiasc.edu) — After years of consideration and analysis, Columbia College has decided to expand its undergraduate residential program from single-gender to coed in fall 2021.
The President and Board of Trustees cited a decade long decline in College enrollment, a nationwide decrease of interest in enrollment at women’s colleges, and studies that show a decline in the number of high school graduates as deciding factors in the move.
Columbia College has been a pioneering institution since it was founded more than 165 years ago.
“We were pioneers when we made the decision to let male veterans participate in classes following World War II. We were pioneers again in 1964 when our school was ravaged by a devastating fire and we had to rebuild. Now we will pioneer into the future, by welcoming all academically qualified students who value an excellent liberal arts education and teachers who truly care about their students,” said Columbia College President Dr. Carol Moore.
Research from 15 single-gender colleges that added a coed component showed a two-year average enrollment growth of 74% and a four-year average growth of 86% for incoming classes.
Meantime, statistics show that fewer than two percent of female, college-bound high school students will consider a single-gender college.
While Columbia College is looking forward to expanding its student base, Trustee Kim Wellman says the recommendation to the Board was presented with guidance to preserve and maintain a women’s leadership component at Columbia College.
“I quickly learned the value of women-only programming after attending a leadership program at Columbia College,” Wellman said. “I had previously participated in other well-known, coed leadership programs in our area. As good as those were, they simply didn’t compare to the experience I had at Columbia College, where I was motivated to speak up and speak out, and explore things I hadn’t the courage to do through those other programs. I’ve been a fan of Columbia College — and how it empowers women to find their voices — ever since.”
Trustees stated that the Board’s duty is to make decisions based on the best interests of Columbia College as a whole, while maintaining a keen focus on what is best for our students.
“As a Board, we have a tremendous love and respect for the legacy of Columbia College. We are proud of the role it has played in preparing students to be successful since 1854,” Trustee Toby Goodlett said.
“Throughout its history our school has remained resilient by adapting to meet the demands of the market place. We are at a point where the school must take the next step to thrive for the next 165 years. We asked the entire Columbia College community to join us on this journey to be the premier liberal arts college of choice for academically qualified students in the Midland’s, South Carolina, and beyond,” said Goodlett.
Columbia College has a track record of student success. Currently, 96% of our undergraduate students are employed within six months of graduating. We also know that students are after more than a degree. At Columbia College students develop lifelong friends who become more like family.
The student body of the future may look more diverse, but Columbia College will continue to prepare every student personally and professionally for success through strong liberal arts and professional programs emphasizing service, social justice, and leadership development.