Mid-Range Private Universities offer Value Proposition
I spent a lot of time at Educause with my CCCU, Council of Christian Colleges & Universities, CIO colleagues. Probably the most interesting data that we compared was that all of our institutions are experiencing strong enrollment years. I can also confirm this about my peer private institutions in the Northwest. Actually this success is focused on mid range priced privates. So what gives. It does have something to do with the value these institutions are offering right now.
The economic downturn has motivated many to pursue a college degree. We know that the Community Colleges are busting at the seams and state universities are maxed out. But I think the success the privates are experiencing is due to value based on leveraging financial aid and being able to deliver the course of study you require for the degree of your choice. I can vouch for the fact that it is very difficult for underclassman at state universities to get into classes that would match a successful four year degree plan. And I think cost does matter so these academically solid mid priced privates turn out to be the best deal.
The other factor influencing the intelligent academic customer is that a successful degree is not just about retaining facts and philosophy but having a teacher shape this into knowledge. Many respected leaders are calling for more flexible and affordable degree options typically built upon online learning solutions. The for-profit universities have leveraged this belief but have gotten caught misleading their customers. But I think we need to step back and realize that yes, information is readily available, meaning online learning is more easily accomplished. But does this translate into effective learning. Or, what is learning? I now believe more then ever that successful learning is accomplished by face to face quality time with full time faculty spent in an immersed residential campus community. The education is only partly about the information turned to knowledge, shaping character may be the piece that ends up winning the job. Employers have confirmed this about our students.
Not to totally bash online learning, we have also produced this successful graduate from our Hybrid programs which are mostly online in delivery, however, with an emphasis on some intensive face-to-face, this hybrid community does produce the same results.