Saturday, August 1, 2009

Connections, August 2009

I am writing this in mid-July, and Connecticut has been having a cool, rainy summer. The one ‘hot spot,’ however, is the College’s summer online courses. Our enrollment is up 26% over last summer as adult students continue adding online courses and programs to their educational plans. With online course enrollments growing nationally at 12% annually, and at an even higher rate here at Charter Oak, the staff has begun a five year planning process to try to understand how the changes in our economy and the needs of adult learners will affect the College.

Looking forward, we are assuming that there will be an increase in price sensitivity among adults seeking degrees, so Charter Oak’s affordability will be an advantage. In addition, the steady growth in online enrollments demonstrates that students are embracing this delivery method. We believe they enjoy the flexibility and convenience of online coursework (no driving, no parking, and no wasted time), so we are expanding our catalog of courses and our complement of trained instructors. Finally, everyone from President Obama, on down, is emphasizing how important a college degree is to being workforce ready. With the national unemployment rate touching 10%, even adults with good jobs are considering finishing their degree so that they can be as marketable as possible.

So, as we imagine this brave new world, we can’t help but notice that the College offers three key components that should be in high demand: a degree completion program, affordability and online delivery. With these components in place, we believe we are poised for dramatic growth. As such, we should focus on answering this question: What makes Charter Oak special, and what makes its online courses unique?

It struck us that one of the best sources for answers to this question would be our graduates. So I am asking you to let us know what it is about the College’s program that best served you. In addition, I am trying to learn what it is about Charter Oak’s online courses that distinguish them. By the way, I do not assume that either our degree program or our courses are perfect. In fact, at the heart of this exercise is the clear intention to make both our program and our online courses better. So please send us your thoughts about what served you well at Charter Oak and how we can improve ourselves.

We think the College is poised for growth because it is adult focused and emphasizes flexibility, convenience, and affordability. We want to use this opportunity not just to grow our student body but to take our approach to the next level. We eagerly look forward to receiving your input.

Please send your thoughts directly to me at, leave a message at (860) 832-3876, or comment here.