October 10, 2012
Executives at Institute for Professional Development
Individual Interviews with Questions
Sean O’Connell and Steven Gstalder
1. How can we proactively meet the needs of students and potential employers in a global economy?
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- Understand the needs of employers. Need to involve corporations early in the process. What needs are they looking to fill and what are the desires of students. Need to find the point where both the needs of students and the needs of companies intersect. Part of the challenge for colleges is to move student desires to be more in line with company needs; that is, advise on career paths that align with interests early in the students academic career, both adult and traditional students.
- Advancing in the online arena. As governments break down restrictions across borders for state authorization of online programs colleges need to be ready to move strategically into other states that we know we are able to reach, for example up to Maine, down to Maryland, and out to the Midwestern states. For global reach need to look at what partnerships can be forged to allow Albertus to take its name outside of Connecticut. This is will be increasingly important as corporations expand globally over the next 5-7 years.
- Having had success in building a real sense of community we have to make sure that we don’t get comfortable in this position that we feel that we know who we are and how/what we need to do to continue to attract students. We need to be better about asking the students and listening to the markets, which is part of the role of the enrollment reps. We should develop a mechanism for feedback from the enrollment reps to reach College leadership.
- Students want a quality education that leads to a good job. What services can we provide to help students achieve this goal? For example, career services for adult students could be a differentiator for Albertus. Providing better career counseling services could help more students find a job, which we can then promote (not as a promise but as examples of what has worked).
- We need to develop relationships with local employers to gain substantive information about local needs and priorities.
2. What will make Albertus relevant ten years from now?
- We should pay attention to program development and be very proactive in what the market is saying is needed. What degrees will make a difference in today’s economy. This is a challenge to a liberal arts institution that does not have many technical degrees. How innovative can Albertus be in pursuing new areas that fit the mission of the College. What partnerships can we pursue to defray the costs of program development.
- As parents and families get more involved in the academic lives of students, including adult students, colleges will need to expand services to include the extended families of students. This expands the sense of community that can set apart a school like Albertus. Also consider providing services to adult students comparable to what are provided for traditional students.
- At every job fair someone stops by the Albertus booth and mentions that they know someone who is studying at the school or who has graduated, or that they are proud graduates. A school cannot buy this type of loyalty but need to capitalize on it. The danger of expansion is that a school tries to be all things to all people and lose that special feeling that is part of the Albertus brand.
- Need to develop more corporate connections and understand the needs of employers. This could be done through a mentoring or business advisor program, where companies could be more directly involved in the direction and shape of students studies. As employers see through these programs that we produce quality students they will see the value of continuing to work with Albertus and may even be willing to donate funds to the College. We need to stay relevant by continuing to build the network and sense of community that Albertus is there for you now and will be forever.
- It is important to determine what type of college Albertus wants to be and to develop a strong reputation in that arena. From a macro perspective, there are two tracks: highly academic, research oriented institutions; institutions that are designed to serve primarily first generation college students. If Albertus follows the second track, it should focus on programs that can clearly be linked to careers. It is also important to remain nimble, to be able to continually introduce new programs as market needs change.
3 . How do we ensure a healthy student population at Albertus Magnus College in the face of economic and demographic challenges, including reductions in federal and state funding for higher education?
- Trend is absolutely in online delivery. All the research is showing that people expect the technology to be there as an option for all students. Schools need to invest in the infrastructure that is required for more technological support of instruction, particularly as more ipads and ereaders move into the classroom. Education will be all about access; those who will be competitive will make education very accessible. Need to figure out how to put educational technology into the hands of students. What partnerships can we pursue to help with the cost of this investment.
- Adult students are consumers of education so much more than traditional students, so schools need to focus more on the quality of education and the response rate of customer service at all levels. Support mechanisms need to be in place for adults as well as traditional students. For example, how can we develop more career planning support services and predictive indexing advisement to guide adult and traditional students to where they should be focusing their studies. Need to both provide robust support services and then focus marketing efforts on these services. We provide services but are we leveraging them enough?
- For growth online delivery of instruction and support services will be very important. Students will want to see the extent of options available online, even if they themselves don’t want to pursue online instruction. Students will judge institutions based on whether they “offer it all”, both on the depth and breadth of their services and academic programs (whether an advanced degree would be available). Albertus already shows great depth of services and programs but needs to constantly add more to be competitive
- Pursue more corporate support and scholarships to provide the money needed to support student tuition. Should focus on a particular group and then find the resources to fund that group; that is, target tuition support to groups of students that the College would like to attract. E.g., son went to school in northern New York because they had a concerted effort to grow the geographic spread of their student body and so gave a great aid package to a Connecticut resident.
- Developing partnerships for delivery of services to optimize efficiency is a strategy to consider. Also, explore ways of enabling students to fund their educations, such as establishing R.O.T.C. on campus.
4. What could Albertus do better?
- Would be good to develop quick adoption processes for developing new academic programs in response to market needs. IPD can develop better support services in market research to help identify trends in society that indicate the need for new programs. Examples from the past include business concentrations in ecommerce or a homeland security degree following the 9/11 attacks. These concentrations could be recognized with the granting of badges for achieving competence in specific sub-areas of study.
- Research additional funding streams from traditional alumni donations, including corporations and foundations. Need to focus on adult students as a good source of fundraising, as well as target the IPD employees that work on Albertus programs. This would help the partner feel more a part of the Albertus community. Also need to develop more of the alumni connection to the College from adult graduates. Participation in activities by adults is key and is a missed opportunity.
- Listen to the market and outside views in where the College should be heading.
- Continue to cultivate corporate and individual donors; explore alternative funding sources/revenue streams. Increase the use of social media in marketing efforts.