This week I attended one of the bigger conferences that serves the proprietary education sector. Although many of the attendees are saying that the numbers are still down from years past, there was a dose of optimism that was in the air as more people have started to come back to the conference now that we are two years removed from the last election.
Under the previous administration, the proprietary education sector was faced with increased rules and regulations that burdened the staff and caused institutions to invest money in areas that weren’t serving the student and their educational pursuits.
During this time schools also faced daily bad press that provoked prospective students to be cautious of where they decided to pursue higher education. Couple this with the ongoing national discussion around the student loan debt crisis and it was a recipe for tighter budgets, less staff, and schools seeking ways to maintain viability because there were fewer people interested in their institutions.
Under the current presidential administration there is optimism in the air as some of the rules and regulations are put on hold or funding is cut off. Resources are also being allocated to help the same schools get back to operating on an even playing field in the higher education sector.
With record low unemployment and employers looking for skilled labor due to a growing economy. All higher education institutions providing students with skills, certifications, diplomas, and degrees, are in demand and necessary to provide the marketplace with a skilled labor force.
Unfortunately, because the previous administration was focused on limiting higher education options, the skills gap that exists in the marketplace has been increased over the past several years.
These schools have a tall task to help meet the current demands of the marketplace, while also developing and investing into programs of study to meet the skills that will be required in the marketplace in the future.
With any decision I have ever made during my lifetime, I have always made better ones when presented with more information and several options. Additionally, when presented with a problem where I have had different solutions to choose from, I have typically made the right decision for me at the time when I was able to look at several available options.
So options and choices have allowed me to make the best decisions for me. Without a few options I may have made the decision to pursue one thing, because that is all I knew at the time. It may have not been the best fit, but if I didn’t have many choices I had no choice but to pick something.
The value of multiple options, especially in higher education, is that a prospective students learns more than they need to know when they are looking at the different options to choose from. This process is the learning process that helps them make the best decision for themselves.
It is like several years ago when I was looking for a gym to go to. I had two options originally. I had a gym that I really liked that would open up at 7 am. They had great equipment, a pool, and sauna. Another gym that I was interested in opened up at 5 am, but it did not have a sauna. But it also had a great equipment. At that time, I chose to go to the gym that opened at 5 am because that fit my schedule better. Luckily I had the two options.
Then you fast forward a few years forward and I ended up becoming a member of a gym that I could go to 24/7. At that time, I was getting up earlier and I wanted the flexibility on the weekends to go whenever I wanted. Once again, because I had options, I was able to make the best decision for me and for my life.
All institutions of higher education have different paths, programs, support, services, focuses. You name it. And when these options are not available to prospective students, then a person may have to decide on one or the other, that may not be the best fit for what they want to accomplish and how they want to go about accomplishing it.
Bottom line is options provide us education and knowledge to make the best decision for us and our situation. When it comes to higher education this benefits all of the parties involved. The prospective students, the schools, and the taxpayers who provide funding through federal student loan programs.
After attending the conference this week, that is what I am most excited about. Regardless of your form of ownership the government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in business.
Yes I said in business. All schools are businesses, if they don’t make more money than they spend, they will no longer exist. This why I am thankful for an even playing field where the business that wins, is the business that serves the customer the best based on what that customer needs and wants.
To your success and your future.