Clayton County native Morgan Bolton takes one last look at the email she received Friday about the school closing. “I’m going to do the whole process over again,” she said. Photo by Kerri Phox/The Atlanta Voice

Morgan Bolton packed what she could and started heading to her car. She took another look at the email that she was sent about her school, The Art Institute of Atlanta, closing for good, and could not believe this was happening.

The Jonesboro High School graduate and Clayton County native came to The Art Institute to study fashion design and now she has to find a new school.

“I’m going to do the whole process all over again,” said Bolton, 23. “It feels like I’m in high school again. I can’t start school again till the start of a new semester.”

Bolton told The Atlanta Voice that she has plans to start looking at schools this week.

“Once I finish here I’ll start dealing with that.”

The Art Institute of Atlanta will close at the end of this month. Photo by Kerri Phox/The Atlanta Voice

The Art Institute of Atlanta sent notices to its students that the school will permanently close at the end of the month. This closure also includes Art Institute locations in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Miami, San Antonio, Tampa and Virginia.

The impact of closing a school in the midst of a semester can be devastating to students, both first-time college students like Bolton, and adult students like Lanecia Joyce.

Lanecia Joyce says she will continue her education elsewhere, but doesn’t know where at the moment. “It’s not going to stop anything,” she said. Photo by Kerri Phox/The Atlanta Voice

A former United States Air Force veteran, Joyce was also packing her bags and some boxes outside of the school on Peachtree-Dunwoody Rd. Monday morning. She decided to go to college after her military service, with the express goal of becoming a fashion designer.

“I’m pretty upset, I feel like somebody knocked the wind out of me,” said Joyce, 34. “If we were given the opportunity as students to know, we could have helped fix it. We could have tried to raise funds.”

Joyce, who used her veteran status to help pay for college, has to start looking for a new school, but she isn’t looking for a new goal. She plans to be a fashion designer. Nothing will change that, she says.

“I just have to look forward and go to another school,” she said. “It’s not going to stop anything.”

The school stated on its website that five official copies of each student’s transcript will be mailed to the college of their choice at no cost. 

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Donnell began his career covering sports and news in Atlanta nearly two decades ago. Since then he has written for Atlanta Business Chronicle, The Southern Cross...