Since 1852, Mills College has brought transformative learning opportunities to many by breaking barriers, forging connections, and changing lives. Today, because of the economic burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic, structural changes across higher education, and Mills’ declining enrollment and budget deficits, Mills must begin to shift away from being a degree-granting college and toward becoming a Mills Institute that can sustain Mills’ mission. The Mills College Board of Trustees, after careful consideration, has decided that after fall 2021, Mills will no longer enroll new first-year undergraduate students. We will focus our resources on building degree pathways for our continuing students, and supporting the new first-year undergraduate, transfer, and graduate students who will join us this fall. Mills will most likely confer its final degrees in 2023, pending further consideration and action by the Board of Trustees.
There a number of trends at work. First, there has been a broad demographic shift with just fewer kids coming through the pipeline. Second, the value proposition of an on-campus college experience has been devalued by how many schools reacted to COVID. Third, the ROI for many college degrees isn’t what it used to be. It’s not the ticket to the middle class that it was 40 years ago.