What would a post-secondary institution that was designed for maximum student success look like? What would a college look like where a student could define what they were looking to get out of the experience?
“I want an education that allows me to:
- work full time / go to school full time
- continue earning enough money to pay my rent and living expenses / focus on my studies
- increase my income by ____% $____ per hour or year / pursue my passion for _____”
And what if an institution was held accountable for their success in achieving those outcomes?
I recently had coffee with one of my former third-grade students who is a graduate of Johnson & Wales, one of the premier hospitality training institutions in the world. She knew beginning in middle school that she loved planning parties. Johnson & Wales made it easy for her to pursue her interest in event planning, provided plenty of opportunities for real world experience, and then connected her with an internship at the Disney Corporation which then led to a job. She chose a program that allowed her to graduate in three years; she took five classes each trimester, but her fifth class was free. She also took an additional class each summer. She has no debt. She is really happy with her experience.
She has a dedicated alumni office contact who regularly checks in not just with her but also with her parents to see how things are going, to ask if there is anything they can do to be helpful (and, in her parents’ case, to find out of there is anything she’s not sharing with the alumni office directly). He repeatedly offers to connect her to alumni in cities where she’s traveling and makes sure that she knows that when she’s ready to relocate or look for a new job, all she has to do is let him know and he will activate the alumni network to help her. She knows that this is a long-game investment in a future donation from her to the college (or one now from her parents), but she’ll be happy to support the school if she’s successful in her career—thanks to their efforts.
Johnson & Wales is a private institution, which gives it some flexibility, but the college is clear that its purpose is giving students the experiences and connections they’ll need to get into the field they’re excited about. That kind of clarity leads to success. My former student is a powerful testament to the excellence that is possible as a result.
[Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on the Hireable blog.]