Adult learners in continuing education are the fastest-growing piece of the higher education marketin the country. In order to compete, academic institutions must be flexible.
“In higher education, if you stand still you fall behind,” says Dr. Gwen Finestone, president of California Southern University. “Most universities are all about lecturing in the classroom. We’ve been online for 40 years.”
Educating for tomorrow
“We prepare learners to ‛succeed in a world that we have yet to imagine,’” Finestone notes. “We don’t know what the next 40 years will bring — how do you prepare students who might have multiple careers?”
Anastasia Selberis, vice president of global relations and interfaith study and respect at California Southern University, sees the answer in the university’s Finestone Leadership Institute (FLI), a two-year program developed to benefit professionals pursuing advancement in their careers.
“For continuing education to be effective, you need something practical,” she says. “The different workshops FLI offers, the different speakers — it’s always exciting to hear someone who’s directly aligned with a skill that we need to learn. It takes you from theory to practice.”
Another way Cal Southern is innovating is with their real-world partnerships, like the one between the Los Angeles Chargers and FLI.
“We are thrilled to partner with California Southern University,” says Jim Rushton, the Chargers’ chief revenue officer. “We appreciate Cal Southern and the FLI for offering the opportunity through their curriculum to develop junior members of the Chargers business staff into the leaders of tomorrow.”
Another key is affordability. “Our students won’t graduate with $100,000 worth of debt,” says Finestone. “And they willgraduate with a WASC-accredited degree, which is the gold standard.”