Teaching and college administration has been my calling for well over a decade. From 2005-2009, I fulfilled that passion at ITT Technical Institute. When I read the news today, that they were no more, my first thought was, “Good! This is long overdue.” It was quickly followed by, “What will happen to all those students?” I am going to put aside the analysis of all the bad things done under the banner of higher education while the colors of ITT Tech flew high upon the helm. I am not going to think about the fortunes gained and lost by shareholders, employees, and taxpayers. Today, I want to talk about that secondary concern…the students.
Now that the school is closed, where will these students finish their education? As outlined, some will seek loan forgiveness, some will drop out, the rest will seek a new college. My hope is that most of them will find another college. My fear is that many that wish to finish somewhere else, will find that there is no room at the inn. State and private schools have record numbers of applications and not enough seats to accept them. A similar scenario for different reasons awaits them if they remain in the market driven college realm. Those systems have experienced significant slowdowns, with several meeting the same fate as ITT Tech, or operating as a much smaller college.
If you are like me, you look at that data and ask yourself – “What can I do about this?” My brief answer, in two parts:
- I will prepare myself to meet more students who have had a negative education experience, or hear more negative than positive these days regarding college overall. It is more than school closures – it is noticeable safety issues, degrees with few marketable skills, high debt, the list is truly without end. When I hear these issues in class, I will actively listen and not try to defend. I will facilitate understanding.
- I will support local movements that seek to meet with students and provide options to them. Even though these students are not “mine”, I am pledging my willingness to educate any one of these affected students. I will do so formally through my University, but also ask other education leaders in the region what can be done. I think about the RED teams that a city will dispatch to court an employer or secure a regulation that will facilitate solid job creation and economic development.
I choose these two actions because they are within my area of control. I proudly work as an associate professor at University of Phoenix. I have been active in causes supporting business and education for two decades in and around Riverside, CA.
One thing I teach first year students is that they need to assess their skills and abilities, then apply them to the problem at hand. I can imagine no better service to students than to follow my own advice and work tirelessly until I make a positive difference in their lives and help them reach their career and academic goals.
What will you do? #ITTTechstudents
Note – Bruce Baron and the San Bernardino Community College District are already doing great work, see the article here