KCH: You’ve worked closely with the proprietary school sector for more than two decades. What’s the most interesting change you’ve seen in the proprietary sector during this time?
Actually, the most interesting change is under way right now, and that’s the recognition of career colleges’ legitimacy by the naysayers, and their adoption of many of our practices, strategies and philosophies. Wanted or not, there’s always been that rivalry between traditional colleges and universities, and career education-based institutions. In the 80s and 90s – and even still to this day, in some places – career colleges were looked down upon. We were tagged with the “for-profit” label that many of our colleagues at four-year institutions perpetuate, which in itself is a derogatory term. But sometime in the early 2000s, our schools began to surpass our “more esteemed” competitors in two related realms: the first is online education. We became big proponents of distance education and now our institutions are leaps and bounds ahead in regard to technology. And, the second realm was making education more convenient. Career colleges were the first to adapt their curricula and program availability to the busy schedules of their students. Now we are the leaders in many avenues mostly because our schools can make decisions fast and they don’t need to cut through line and after line of red tape. These continue to be our biggest advantages.
KCH: You’ve recently launched the online publication “Career College Central.” What features does the publication include?
Foremost, what we feature is news. Before Career College Central came along, there were no other news mediums that offered unbiased reporting on what’s happening in our sector. Also, there were no news agencies collecting the news of the day from other publications and making it available to executives in our sector. In addition, each issue of the magazine features analysis of current trends, interviews with prominent executives, research on topics relevant to college directors, and wisdom from leading experts in all areas of career education. We also have fun with the news. We make it interesting. We make it relevant. I suppose those details could be listed as features, too.
KCH: By which organizations in the higher education market have you been particularly impressed?
Well, it’s hard not to be impressed by Apollo Group and its first billion dollar quarter. They’ve been a leader in our industry for so long and done some amazing things for giving career education a good name. But then again, so many other institutions are thriving: Education Management Corporation, Corinthian Colleges, all the way to most of the smaller individually owned schools. I think the focus on the dollar is important, but no one really mentions the story behind that, which are the thousands of Americans represented by those amounts who have changed their lives. They are coming to our schools because they are convenient, provide real outcomes, and help people find jobs that are in demand. It’s a golden period for career education and we’re more energized than ever by their success.