by Emily Allen
Previously published in the August/September 2015 issue of OfficePro
The following interview is with Brad Kleindl, Ph.D., dean of the School of Business at Park University and Emily Allen, managing editor of OfficePro. IAAP announced in July that it is partnering with Park University to provide a path to degree completion to its members.
In some of our conversations, we’ve talked about higher education and the
ways it’s changing. Brad, can you elaborate on one or two trends you see taking place now?
One major trend in higher education is that there is an increased focus on the adult learner. Many research-focused universities predominantly recruit post high school students, but other institutions have embraced the adult market. Park does both. We focus on how we can help people succeed in their careers. With the post high school student, we look at helping an individual land their first “real” job and launch their career.
“If you start working toward your degree at 50 and end at 55, you’ll still be able to use that degree for the next 20-plus years. If you’re going to be using it that long, isn’t the degree (and effort) worth it?”
In what ways will partnership with Park and IAAP help a non-traditional student obtain a degree?
It basically helps in two ways. First—because we have this partnership with IAAP, Park can look at the depth of knowledge required to achieve IAAP certifications and specialties and determine the amount of credit we can offer. Instead of having to take a three-credit hour course at Park, if the applicant has earned the IAAP CAP, for example, they may need only partial credit to complete a course. We are able to review a student’s collective educational portfolio including previous college work, education validated through achievement of certifications as well as work history and grant college credit toward a degree. This helps IAAP members move forward to degree completion.
Second—because Park has a tradition of serving the adult market, including the military, we have a lot of experience packaging the various credits of several institutions to assemble a degree completion plan. No matter how long it’s been since you went to college, it’s still in your transcripts. Because Park serves a large military market, some that are retiring after 20 or 30 years of service and going back into the job market, these individuals may have to track back to the 1980s or earlier to when they first started earning college credit.
When IAAP members come to us, we will talk with them individually about their career goals and plan a path to help advance their career.
How does Validated Learning Equivalency (VLE) work when used in a path to complete a degree?
Our programs have core learning outcomes we expect our students to achieve. So we look at the knowledge components of IAAP’s certifications, and at students’ individual outcomes to see how their experience matches to those outcomes. Then we determine the level of credit that may be awarded. For example, Park has a computer course that all students are required to take which requires knowledge of Word, Excel and other basic programs. Most, if not all, IAAP members have expertise in all of those programs. If the member can demonstrate that knowledge, there’s no reason to make a student retake that class.
Park Success Advisers will partner with you to structure a degree plan based on the results of an evaluation.
For more information, go to: www.park.edu/iaap
What are some roadblocks stopping people from completing a degree?
The major roadblock is not necessarily the family obligations. It’s not necessarily about the cost. It is often the self-expectation. If you consider the traditional college student who attends right out of high school, if both parents have college degrees and have stressed to their children the importance of a college degree— it’s not that hard for a student to maintain expectations that they will get a degree. If you’re an adult student who has not yet attained a degree by the time you’ve started your family, or your parents did not complete college, many people ask: “Why do I need to go to college? What good will it do for me if I go through all this effort?”
For people who finally say, “I really need to do this!” they make it happen. They decide they need the degree to achieve their personal or career goals. Many returning or adult students decide to complete a degree, often because career opportunities may not be open without a degree. Many individuals earn their degree to show their children the importance of attaining a college education, and to show them it’s possible at any stage in life.
In my conversations with adult learners, often they will say, “I’m thinking about taking courses or completing my degree, why should I do it?” What I tell them is: “If you start working toward your degree at 50 and end at 55, you’ll still be able to use that degree for the next 20-plus years. If you’re going to be using it that long, isn’t the degree (and effort) worth it?” That is the frame of reference people need to have in mind. Education helps your long-term future.
What about people who really don’t want to go to college or get a college degree?
There are people who don’t want to (or think they can’t) go to college, but who still want to excel in their career. That doesn’t mean there’s not a need for education past high school. There are opportunities for people to work in many different areas if they get technical training. Many community colleges offer that.
However, studies show that lifetime earnings are tied to degree attainment. With that higher level of college attainment, more opportunities open up for you. Think of the bachelor’s degree as the base floor. That opens the doors up. Then people can add certifications or graduate studies. Park offers associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, various certifications as well as master’s degrees. It’s different for everyone. Ask yourself: “What opens up the doors given your career track?”
Emily Allen is Director of Programs and Communications at IAAP and Managing Editor of OfficePro.