To the editor: Given the drop in college-aged folks in Massachusetts and elsewhere, it should be no surprise that some of the state's colleges and universities are showing large enrollment declines. ("MCLA's enrollment dropped by half in 10 years — by far more than any other state college," Eagle, Dec. 17.)

Berkshire Community College seems to have continued on its path of providing a relatively affordable launchpad for that demographic — allowing local kids to start college while living at home or working. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, for some reason, has not been attracting many students.

The suggestions to rename or refocus may not be enough to save that school. Over time, many of the state colleges (though not MCLA) became universities. In doing so, the prices rose to UMass levels for many of these colleges, removing the advantage state colleges had over the state university system for folks just wanting a degree to become a teacher, an accountant or another vocation needing a degree.

The question is not how to reinvigorate MCLA. The question is: Do we have too many schools in the system, and should we close a couple to make the rest stronger? Is MCLA on the save or cut list based on impartial metrics? This state is not so geographically large that any school that is closed will make accessing higher education impossible. The purpose of these schools is to provide education, not to be the economic backbone of a community. While that is a benefit, it should not drive the decision.

Each state university should be evaluated and see if it is offering valuable programs and if the unmet physical plant needs are out of line with the enrollment and its ability to sustain the campus, and judge the number of commuting students as a percentage of the student body. If it isn't being supported by many locals who commute, then its loss as an option is a moot point.

Dave Pill, Pittsfield