Michael Platt: A Man With a Vision

The following interview was conducted by Andrew Lambert of National College Examiner:

Michael Platt is a renowned leader and innovator in the career college sector. For nearly 20 years, Platt provided out-of-the-box marketing and advertising solutions for all types of learning institutions as CEO of PlattForm Advertising.

The agency became one of the largest providers of interactive lead generation, advertising and marketing services to career colleges under his leadership. In 2008, Platt assumed the role of CEO for Ad Venture Interactive (AVI.) He now oversees and integrates all three of the parent company’s divisions: PlattForm Advertising, Beauty Schools Marketing Group, and Transportation Marketing Group.

In 2004, Platt was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the category of Business Services. He was lauded by the Career College Association with its "Irreplaceable and Indispensable" award for his service to the organization in 2006. Most recently, Platt was elected Chair of the Imagine America Board of Directors.

Today, we sit down with Mr. Platt to discuss career education, where to find good education information, and his newest project US College Search.

Q: What makes your site the best selection for students who want to obtain college information?

Comprehensiveness is the most obvious answer. USCollegeSearch.org is one of the largest college search sites available on the Internet. Thousands of schools are listed along with in-depth descriptions about the career paths prospective students can follow. But we also offer some distinctive features that help our students assemble all the information they need before choosing a school. For example, career advisors are available to help prospective students find the information they need and to guide them through the selection and application processes. The site also provides extensive articles, blog posts and other helpful resources for the decision-making process.

Q: What do you hope your visitors get from visiting your site?

The ability to make a well-informed decision about their education is what we hope they take away. We also want them to understand as much as they can about the career field they are pursuing so, upon graduation, they’ve found a career where they feel they are making a contribution and that will make them happy, long term. That’s been the mission of the site since it was founded. Since 2006, we’ve helped well over 100,000 students find career paths through our schools.

Q: Why do you feel so many undergraduate students get overwhelmed with their college information gathering experience?

In my experience, whether it’s an educational environment or a corporate one, your success depends on finding an organization that is the best fit for you, individually. This isn’t easy to do when colleges are flooding your mailbox and telling you their school is your perfect match. Colleges are competing fiercely for students. There are so many choices and types of learning now. The enrollment process is as confusing as it ever was. And, some students will always have doubts about what they want to do or why they’re going to college in the first place. The students who are able to keep the chaos on the outside – in the mailbox, let’s say – are the ones who are going to be a lot happier about their decisions.

Q: Where does your passion for career education come from? Why are you such a proponent of students who attend those institutions?

I believe whole-heartedly in the mission of our sector, which is to help lift people who are tired of tending bar and waiting tables into better lives for themselves and their families. These aren’t students who are going to college because their parents are paying for. These aren’t students who are trying to change the world. Their aspirations are much humbler than that. They want to make a decent life, and I think anyone can respect that. Plus, everyone loves an underdog. Most of our students are not in the most ideal situations. They may have had children at a young age or have some other extenuating circumstances that have not only kept them from the classroom, but also made their lives harder. With a little guidance, they can be something more. We are their guidance. We haven’t forgotten them or deemed them unworthy of education.

Q: Why do you feel it is important for people to understand their postsecondary education opportunities beyond traditional colleges and universities?

Traditional learning modes aren’t for everyone. From the time our children can listen, we are teaching them they are unique in this world – that they all have individual abilities and can do at least one thing well … and then our educational system more or less encourages that are all taught in the same way. If your talent involves your hands, for example, you are going to struggle academically and you might have a whole different high school experience than someone who is more gifted learning from lecture. So many career college students get put off of learning because the learning processes are geared more toward the collegiate environment. Even our culture is embedded with the usual forms of traditional colleges and universities. We talk about our kids “growing up and going off to college.” But what if the state university isn’t right for what you want to study? What if the school that best fits your background is a few blocks away and you don’t have to move across state to learn how to become what you want to be? If you don’t understand the options available to you in the postsecondary education realm, you might not make a choice. You might get caught in a run of the mill job. Many of our eventual students do … until they realize there is hope.

Thanks to Mr. Platt for his great insight. You can also read more solid education advice, and hear from the people who have been trying to share their education experiences.


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