There does not have to be a “one size fits all” approach to education. With busy lifestyles, it is common for some students to pursue a four-year degree from a public institution while others are exploring a for-profit or career college to better fit their daily routine. Research shows that when it comes to retaining and graduating students, career colleges can compete – and even exceed – their traditional counterparts. And it is thought leaders like Dr. Watson Scott Swail, president and CEO at the Educational Policy Institute, who are leading the way in proving just how successful private sector schools can be.

In 2009, Swail led a study entitled Leveling the Playing Field for All Schools, Including Career Colleges where he compared how private and for-profit institutions serve students and the respective educational outcomes. The results were realistically favorable for career colleges. The study emphasized how these institutions find success by gearing educational programming and providing support toward adult learners who have adult responsibilities and additional risks to consider. For example, the study identified that approximately half of students attending career colleges at all levels have at least three of the following risk factors – students are older; they tend to have children; they tend to have less income; and they tend to come from families whose parents, on average, were less likely to go beyond high school than other students. The study also showed that career colleges competitively retain and graduate students because they:

  • Give students the support they need – working parents, busy professionals, and those without prior degrees.
  • Tailor educational programming to older and minority students.
  • Break barriers that may have prevented their students from participating in traditional postsecondary education.

An article about Dr. Swail’s study, written by the Career Education Review, said that career colleges remain an important component of our nation’s higher education system, particularly for the non-traditional adult student. Blackboard could not agree more. That’s just one of the reasons we developed Blackboard Learn™ – to focus on engaging busy learners with one another online and to prepare them to flourish in the job market. We are looking forward to learning more from Dr. Swail at the upcoming 2nd Annual Professional and Career College Summit in NYC, April 11-13, which we are sponsoring.  (Contact us for more information.)

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