Students and staff weigh options after St. Louis college announces closure

OVERLAND, MO - The past few days have been tough for staff and students at Hickey College on North Lindbergh Boulevard. The school is preparing to close its doors, largely due to declining enrollment.

“It’s a wonderful place and it’s still a wonderful place. No one here wanted this to happen,” Hickey College President Christopher Gearin said. “I think you’re seeing major enrollment declines in many colleges and universities. We’re just one of them. It’s harder for us as a smaller institution - these 10% hits in enrollment.”

Hickey College opened in 1933. The college offers diplomas, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. Programs can be completed in less than two years, an attractive feature to students.

“The learning that I’ve had prepares us to go into our career fields. We go out, and we’re just ready for it,” Keanna Compton said. Compton said she entered Hickey College “straight out of high school” and has savored the experience. She obtained her office administration certification and now works as an administrative assistant on campus.

“We’re just a family here. Just team players. Our number one goal is to be there for the students,” Compton said.

The ending is a sad one for students and staff. But Gearin said the school has boasted an impressive record.

“All of our outcomes are very high. Placement rates are over 90%. Graduation rates are over 80%,” Gearin said.

Jessica Finnerty, a Hickey College graduate, now work as an evening education assistant.

“I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without Hickey College and the education I received,” she said.

Hickey College will remain open for another 18 months so students can complete their programs, Gearin said.

Gearin said former and current students need not worry about whether their certifications or degrees will be accepted elsewhere.

Also, many colleges will keep their articulation agreements going, he said.

However, Hickey College will no longer accept applications, as the school prepares for its final students to complete their coursework.

Hickey College offers a variety of career education programs, including culinary arts, office administration, accounting, veterinary technology, and graphic design.

It currently enrolls about 300 students, Gearin said.