Given the extraordinary regulatory and political challenges facing career education, what improvements/innovations does the sector need to implement to remain a leader in higher education?
The career education sector has led the country in delivering hands-on, job-oriented training for years, and our value to the U.S. workforce is significant in terms of the unique types of training we provide. I believe we have an opportunity to harness our sector’s collective innovation in order to form a stronger bridge between education and labor. If we can develop stronger ties to the employers of our graduates across the country, we will validate our sector’s role as a prime source for skilled employees. Furthermore, this validation will publicly align our efforts with those of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Department of Labor and other important career focused agencies. Ultimately, this consortium of agencies and education could strengthen the economic base of the country and serve as a unique and practical component of the President’s national education agenda. Simply said, improvement in focus, validation and alignment can reposition the sector as one of the country’s economic solutions.
Additionally, I believe we have the opportunity to promote career education through showcasing our students’ skills. The sector provides training in a variety of skilled areas delivered by industry practitioners using industry standard technologies and equipment. Student skill displays or competitions which can showcase talents across institutions would further validate the efficacy of our training and the personal transformation we make in students’ lives.
Please explain the innovations you’ve brought to (or observed in) career education. What led you to recognize the need for these innovations? What has been their impact on students and higher education?
The past two years have offered a great deal of change, and we feel that the significant adjustments we made to operate in the new regulatory environment were necessary to maintain our stellar regulatory track record. Included were changes to our student support methodology focused on improving the outcomes of non-traditional and vocationally oriented students. We were early adopters of front-end admissions limitations for students who did not meet academic and behavioral standards which impeded our growth but did not impede our innovation. A selection of the programs we have implemented include:
The early results are clear. We have seen improvements in our student academic performance, persistence and placement rates. Moreover, we have strengthened our data management, educational quality and partnerships, and we have focused our organization on building America through our vocational/technical programs.
What quality about career colleges or their students motivates you personally?
When people are motivated to call our institutions, their lives can be changed in a very short period of time. I am, in turn, motivated by these callers. Any person who is willing to go back to school after years to try something new and challenge themselves at the same time has taken the first step toward a new life. I am also continually motivated by the reality of an educational free market which allows every American to achieve the dream of an education and career.