Perhaps the recent spate of articles about education’s failure to achieve successful outcomes for its graduates is part of the aftermath of the Great Recession or merely the normal, critical evaluation of higher education. But this has been a significant week for questioning the success of education.
On Tuesday, Secretary Duncan raised the issue of successful outcomes for graduates of career and technical schools in an address before the joint meeting of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium and the federal Office of Vocational and Adult Education. Then the Economic Policy Institute argued yesterday for more spending on job creation in its depiction of the inequitably high unemployment for young adults, including young, adult college graduates. And just a week ago, The Economist released its story about Peter Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, and his argument that we are in the midst of a higher education bubble with college education that is overrated and over-priced.
The issue, of course, is outcomes and the responsibility that educational institutions –including higher educational ones – have for the success of their graduates. This is a topic that this blog has addressed before. But the news makes it evident that many believe that our educational institutions are not taking seriously the public’s call for improved performance. And there are ways for them to do so. Indeed, many like The Art Institutes prominently focus in the success of their alumni.
Just yesterday I met with Roberto Angulo, CEO and co-founder of a California-based company, called AfterCollege. The name of the company is apt; this company focuses on jobs for graduates, and it has a record of success. It uses a patented, proprietary process of linking companies – with specific skill and experience demands – to recent college graduates from varying backgrounds.
This for-profit company is a very successful example of a growing number of companies that have the potential to improve substantially the higher education industry. And its success at accomplishing what students and the public wants makes it evident that the free market is working – even in an industry like higher education that formerly was the province of the nonprofit sector. The challenge that lies ahead for educational institutions is to take seriously expectations of the public for success for graduates and to use their own capacities or make available to students the resources of companies like AfterCollege.