Valerie Kindall

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?

To remain a leader in higher education, our sector needs to keep the public informed on the economic benefits of career colleges. The statistics speak for themselves. Considering enrollment, retention and placement, dollar for dollar, our product is a competitive if not better investment compared to not-for-profit institutions. It gets disheartening to see the thousands of success stories achieved through career education swept under the rug while the rare complaint finds the spotlight. Our sector needs to find its voice and market the message of opportunity aggressively across all media platforms. People like knowing facts. The fact is that our sector fills an employment gap in our economy faster and more effectively that traditional education. An educated society is a better society; there is not an argument against that regardless of what your political stance may be.

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?

Innovation is everywhere in our industry! On a personal level, I grasped a new way to perform the career services role to have a greater impact on our mission. Beyond the traditional supportive role, we have transformed ourselves into the student’s link to the working world. My team and I dedicated ourselves to becoming subject matter experts in every industry in which we train our students. We have done so by attending industry conferences, networking with influential employers, and staying abreast of industry news and hiring trends. We connect this information to every department in our organization so that we can continually cultivate industry insight into our classrooms. On a higher level, Capstone Education, a division of Pinnacle Career Institute, provides a perfect example of institutional innovation. By combining resources and working with partner schools, we are able to deliver a quality online education capped off with an industry-specific boot camp. By creating these partnerships, we are all able to execute a cutting-edge learning opportunity for our students that we may not have been able to accomplish alone. Career colleges continue to break down barriers of traditional education to train any student, anywhere, at any point in their life.

What quality about career colleges or their students motivates you personally?

As the Director of Career Services, I get to experience firsthand the positive impact that we have on people’s lives. We get to be a part of something that will not only impact our students’ lives but quite possibly generations to come. When I was in Washington, D.C., a few years ago participating in Hill Day, the theme was, “My education! My job! My choice!” I was very impressed with the amount of pride and opportunity I saw that day. My experience that day made me feel honored to be a part of our sector. The companies that continue to seek out our graduates to fill their skilled positions are what inspire me. My students, who have shifted the educational paradigm in their family, are who inspires me.

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