Bias Against Career Colleges Preventing Students from Having Hard Work Recognized

As a professional in the career college sector for 20+ years, I feel compelled to respond to recent media coverage regarding legal allegations against Globe University/Minnesota School of Business.  I graduated college with a liberal arts degree, deep in debt and ill-prepared for the workforce.  The constant that has remained true throughout my post-college life has been my overwhelming desire to help people.   Shortly after graduation, I found my true passion in the proprietary sector of higher education.  Knowing that education is the one equalizer in a society that places high value on one’s profession and material well-being, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with students who had not experienced success in the more traditional sectors of higher education.

Without regard for the premise of for-profit education, it is imperative to consider that without public subsidies, no school will survive or earn a tax-bearing profit without a strong commitment to doing what is right for the customer.  Globe University/Minnesota School of Business is committed to two separate and equally important consumers we serve, our students and the employers that hire our students in their chosen careers.  Without meeting the distinct and unique requirements of each, we simply could not survive, let alone earn a profit.

What I do want to focus on is the continued discussion around transferability of credit.  I have been committed to this debate for many years and have substantial experience from which to draw extraordinary examples.  In some cases, it has worked while other experiences have evidenced a disappointing result.  From meeting with former Senator Dayton to obtain a solid stance on why legislation should not drive academic-based decisions, to speaking to national audiences with former Senior Vice Chancellor, Dr. Linda Baer, about Minnesota being at the forefront of the nation in working towards successful transfer of credit across sectors.

While representing the Minnesota Career College Association (MCCA) member institutions, I was involved in several meetings with administrators at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MNSCU) systems office.  I always admired former Chancellor, Dr. James McCormick, for his resolute stance in ensuring transfer of credit was focused on student progress and not the institution or faculty/employees’ opinions of other institutions.   After reviewing documentation that demonstrated many of the common courses between the career college sector, state universities and community colleges, I learned that curriculum was often taught from the same textbook, contained similar course objectives, and in some cases, were taught by the same faculty member. It became quite clear it was necessary to consider transfer of credit options for students across sectors.  Additionally, in a side-by-side comparison of accrediting bodies’ standards for faculty academic credentials and experience, it was evident the standards were nearly identical based on the courses being taught.

Under Chancellor McCormick’s leadership, policies were changed to ensure students’ request for credit transfer were not denied solely based on the school or the accreditation of the previous school where the student completed the credits.  As a result, students were able to progress towards graduation at a faster pace without retaking courses, thereby increasing the likelihood of completion and lowering the student’s overall cost.  In addition, taxpayers were not subsidizing redundant coursework. Finally, institutions received students who were proven to be successful in college level work.

While Globe University/Minnesota School of Business, and other career colleges, have at the core of their mission to prepare students for the workforce rather than to serve as a transfer college, we are cognizant that our schools will not always be the right choice for all students.  Students should have every opportunity to have their hard work and earned credits recognized and evaluated based solely on the competencies the student mastered instead of subjective factors such as accreditation or the college setting of the student’s choice.

Because some traditional institutions continue to harbor ill-will towards the proprietary sector, students will continue to receive biased treatment when seeking credit for courses they have successfully completed.  Until we can overcome our prejudices of the past, we will continue to derail students’ navigation through their academic careers at increasing costs to both the student and the taxpayer.

I have devoted my career to serving tens of thousands of students looking for a better future for themselves and their families.  I am so passionate about what we at GU/MSB are able to do for students committed to their education and career pathways.  My mantra is “the sole reason our schools exist is to educate, graduate, and find successful career-specific employment for those students we have the honor to serve.”  I am saddened to the core that the tax-status of our schools causes outsiders to question the motive of our actions.  Again, we exist simply to serve students and the employers that hire them.  I ask that the tens of thousands of graduates that call GU/MSB their alma mater, who proudly contribute to the workforce every day, be given the respect they have earned.

For the generations before us and the generations to come, we stand proud as employees and students of the career college sector.  Those truly interested in learning about our wonderful students and schools, I invite you to join us for a graduation ceremony and see for yourself the transformation that is realized at GU/MSB.