Northwestern College Shuts Down After 122 Years, Leaving Students and Higher Education Community in Limbo


The for-profit Northwestern College, in business 122 years in the southern suburbs of Chicago and known mostly for health care education, suddenly closed its doors this week. This decision was announced on a Saturday and is due to insurmountable financial challenges.

This will have abrupt repercussions on students, faculty, and the community as a whole, impacting the loss of an institution of such rich history.

Northwestern College Shuts Down After 122 Years, Leaving Students and Higher Education Community in Limbo

(Photo : PEXELS / Pixabay)

Financial Struggles Leading to Unavoidable Closure

The additional surprise came by in the form of the board's faith that Northwestern College would be officially closed, although to the administration, the decision had obviously been fiscally necessary all along. In the opinion of college officials, its current and projected fiscal position did not allow for the continuation of its operations. Financial management could not get the college up and running despite immediate measures aimed at stabilizing their finances.

"The difficult decision. Was made by the college's administration after careful analysis of its current and projected fiscal position," the statement read. "While we are saddened by the need to end our educational mission, we will maintain our legacy in the thousands of graduates that have been part of our history."

The closure also called attention to the fragile nature of for-profit educational institutions. In contrast to public or not-for-profit colleges, enterprise schools have for-profit enterprise stressors that are fiscally unique, with their prime funding through tuition and fees. These economic vulnerabilities can become more severe with changes in enrollment, changes in federal funding policies, or even shakier economic times.

READ MORE: Understanding College Closures: Causes, Impacts, And Warning Signs 

Impact on Students and Community

The abrupt closing of Northwestern College has put its students in a very tight corner, whereby they look out for other options through which they can smoothly complete their studies. According to information obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics, it had 904 undergraduate students in 2022. Now these students are getting transferred to different colleges and universities to carry on their educational objectives.

In preparation for students for this event, Northwestern College has shared a teach-out plan on a degree-specific basis. Partnerships with some local colleges and universities ensure that students can make seamless transfers with fully transferable credits. Some of the identified receiving institutions are Prairie State CollegeMoraine Valley Community CollegeChamberlain University, and Malcolm X College.

This is a very stressful process of transferring credits: adjusting to the new academic environment and the social behavior in the college. Acceptance of the credits may include policy by respective receiving institutions that impacts the progress towards achievement of the academic goal on time. Moreover, this sudden action has left students wondering and feeling anxious regarding their academic futures.

Lasting Legacy and Moving On

While the closure of Northwestern College brings to an end many years of its exciting history, it is assured of a legacy through the tens of thousands of alumni it has left behind. For 122 years, it churned out thousands of graduates who turned out to be prominent professionals in their fields, especially in health care. It is a befitting legacy for a college that always prioritized quality education and training until its last breath.

To that extent, the closure of Northwestern College serves as a sober reminder of the stand-off situations their financials may present to for-profit providers of education. It puts forward the importance of financial sustainability and adaptability in light of ever-changing conditions within institutions of higher learning. For existing students and employees, this will now become one of their transitions into new chapters of their educational and professional lives.

The sudden closure of Northwestern College is therefore of large magnitude, with wide ramifications to be felt by all students, faculty members, and the community at large. It will soon become paramount how partner colleges and universities are able to help students complete their educations and realize great fortunes throughout the aftermath of the institution's decision. Even as it closes its doors, Northwestern College's contributions and legacy will not be forgotten.

RELATED ARTICLE: Eastern Gateway Community College To Close This Fall Due To Financial Woes 

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