Meeting the Challenges of Young Americans for the 21st Century

Just released this week by the Harvard Graduate School of Education is its Pathways to Prosperity.  The report focuses on the need to supplement our traditional colleges with meaningful career education if we expect to substantially increase the competiveness of the labor force.  Referencing the goal of the President for higher education participation and lamenting the forecasts for a drop in educational attainment in the U. S., the report stated, “Given these dismal attainment numbers, a narrowly defined ‘college for all’ goal—one that does not include a much stronger focus on career-oriented programs that lead to occupational credentials—seems doomed to fail.”

Access With Success has repeatedly pointed to the very critical role that career-oriented colleges play in our capacity to increase the quality of the labor force and global competitiveness of the U. S.  Many career colleges, like Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts that recently announced its closure in Pittsburgh, play a very critical role in increasing the employability and quality of life of the community.  The Department of Education’s imposition of unnecessary regulations has an especially significant and negative impact on at-risk students who are disproportionately African Americans and Hispanics.   For-profit colleges enroll very substantial numbers of at-risk students, the very students for which college success was lamented by the Harvard report.

If we expect to address the challenges of the Harvard report, we will need to increase substantially the diversity of the avenues to education beyond high school.  For-profit colleges and universities have the potential to play a very significant role in avoiding the “failure” that the Harvard report foresees.

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Huffington Post: “Community Colleges Overcrowding”

Yesterday, the Huffington Post published my opinion piece on community college overcrowding and the merits of for-profit colleges as an alternative. The article notes:

Limiting students’ educational opportunities creates barriers to success that many cannot overcome. As students seek opportunities in higher education, we must be careful not to limit these options for any segment of society; instead, we should support a system that encourages all students to pursue higher education. A 21st century economy depends upon a person’s knowledge as a foundation for increased personal earnings and the economy’s enlarged capacity to grow.

A recent Washington Post article cited difficulties that community colleges are having nationwide. Due to budget shortfalls, many of these institutions can no longer accommodate the number of students interested in attending. They have been forced to turn applicants away. In Colorado, where I served as president of Colorado State University, the waiting lists for nursing programs at some community colleges can be as long as 3.5 years. Due to overcrowding and underfunding, nursing students in Colorado face the alternative of a career for which they have less passion or a wait of more than 3 years.

Click here to view the full story.

Distance Learning a Necessity for Education

Welcome to National Distance Learning Week. In education, distance learning is becoming an increasingly important tool for the effective teaching of students of all backgrounds and levels. Without technology, many students and teachers would be unable to adequately communicate due to barriers in both schedule and geographic location.

In fact, distance learning has become so important that the U.S. Distance Learning Association released a white paper today to recognize how broadband Internet access has enabled education to enter a new stage. The white paper argues that without broadband Internet access, many students would be less engaged or unable to reach their goals in school. See below for a quote from USDLA’s press release:

“In order for 21st century distance learning opportunities to continue to flourish and allow more consumers immediate availability to convenient and affordable education, immediate access to affordable broadband must continue to grow,” said Dr. John G. Flores, Executive Director of the USDLA.  “This paper highlights the measures we believe need to be taken in order to advance online learning and opportunity; and broadband access is a huge component of that need.”

 

Distance learning and higher education are inextricably linked. Without the Internet, many for-profit and not-for-profit programs would not exist. Therefore, we should recognize the impact that distance learning has on the higher education students in our country and work to make these programs even better in the future.