The PJ Tatler

Guest Post: What Higher Education Will Look Like In 2030

Oftentimes, interests know an effective way to win public support on Capitol Hill is to demonize a particular group or industry. Invariably what happens in this most cynical of processes is that the public is left with caricatures or impersonal abstractions of the debated subject.

Put simply, we’re left with oversimplifications when it comes to complicated policies that will affect the lives of millions of Americans.

In the debate over a new regulation known as the “gainful employment” rule, which singles out private sector colleges and universities with burdensome new restrictions on financial aid, it seems that nobody has stopped and considered the qualities of these institutions that have attracted so many degree seekers in the first place.

For example, one of the most valuable aspects of Herzing University is our online degree program.  Corporate Report Wisconsin magazine recently named Herzing University Online the “Best School for Online Education,” winning the prestigious Platinum Award, part of the magazine’s annual Best of Wisconsin reader’s choice awards.

These online degree programs allow working adults or parents to attain a degree without forfeiting their ability to work day jobs or care for children.  It allows flexibility that few college degree programs offer, because we know how difficult it can be to balance work, family and course work.

And in these difficult times, those who are employed know how fortunate they are to have a job.  With online degree programs provided by private sector schools like Herzing, these nontraditional students don’t have to make the difficult choice between keeping their current job and advancing their skills – they can work, provide for their families and earn a degree.

Another aspect of private sector schools and universities that has gotten lost in the oversimplified debate surrounding the “gainful employment” rule is the family environment and nurturing structure of our programs.  For example, our focus at Herzing of “Employment from Day One” encourages students right at the beginning and throughout their educational program to consider the kind of career they will want and even where they would like to work.  Their employment goals are supported by the advice and guidance of a fulltime staff of 28 professionals, many more than at a typical public academic institution of the same size, but typical of private sector schools.  And to sharpen students’ interviewing and job seeking seeks, each student is required to enroll in and successfully complete a Career Development Seminar.

As a  result, the success rate for these online programs at Herzing has been overwhelmingly positive, with six out of seven available graduates from 2010 finding jobs in their particular field of study.  Part of the reason for this success is the specialized programs we offer.  When there is a void in higher education training for a particular job sector, we take pride in making a niche out of that specialty area and then providing students then the expertise that is needed.  To ensure our educational programs are up to the task, like most private sector colleges, we have curriculum advisory committees composed of practitioners who know the skills employers want.

At the same time we want to support the many communities we serve by strongly promoting community service   It gives our students a chance to volunteer, reach out and give back to their communities by utilizing their own various talents.  As a result, the students gain the pride of helping individuals with health issues, assisting in fund raisers or developing better computer skills for community service.

One of the driving forces behind the industry-specific programs at Herzing and other similar private sector schools is the idea that these programs represent the future of higher education inAmerica.  This sort of flexible, family-oriented, career-focused atmosphere is not just good for our students; it is good for a strong 21st Century American workforce.

These are the programs and success stories that will be hit hardest by unnecessary regulations coming out of Washington.  If we are to continue to be a world leader, we must ensureAmerica has a broad and flexible approach to higher education as it directly impacts our ability to compete in a global marketplace.  I am proud to have founded an institution that is training our citizens and helping them obtain the skills to drive our economy in a new, technological era.

Henry G. Herzing is the chancellor and founder of Herzing University.