Young students can appreciate the value of a college degree better than most people. The workforce is a cutthroat competition to enter, and it is an advantage to have paper-proof that you are smarter and more qualified for a job than the rest of the people that are applying. Unfortunately, sometimes a college degree just is not enough to gain an edge over the rest of the world, and there are some professions that require special licenses or certificates that are not applicable with a degree.
Hence the need for a Division of Continuing Education: to offer training and accredited courses to help individuals increase their job skills and to train for new technologies while building leadership and communication abilities. They offer programs in a wide range of industries including health care (EKG or pharmacy technician) and information technology (web development or database systems technologies) as well having business and construction programs. One can be a certified as a geothermal installer, landscaper and get HAZMAT training. Through the Division, students can take prep courses to study for the GMAT, GRE and LSAT, and it is also a center for ESL classes. All of these programs allow individuals to enhance their abilities and increase their productivity.
However, CSU recently announced that they will be closing their Division of Continuing Education this summer. This comes as kind of a shock, because the Division educates over 10,000 students every year and has been nationally recognized as an innovator in adult education. Why would they terminate such a viable entity? The obvious reason is money, but this is not the main reason. While the university will be shaving $250,000 a year off the budget, the primary objective of this change is to steer CSU into a higher academic direction.
Right now, Northeast Ohio is inundated with universities and community colleges, and it is time to remember that CSU is on the bright side of the education spectrum. Currently, the university is offering the same certificate programs that can be obtained for less at a community college, such as Tri-C, while the other major universities in the area (Case, Kent, Akron) are pulling ahead in new research fields. In an attempt to refine the identity of CSU, officials have decided to focus on upper level education and keep the concentration on cutting-edge research.
The Ohio Board of Regents has also expressed this sentiment by encouraging the universities to leave the certificates and training to the community colleges but this does not mean a total end to all of CSU’s certificate programs. The individual academic colleges on campus will try to absorb as many of the programs as possible. The hope is that an individual college can operate and administer each program more effectively than the conglomeration of the Division of Continuing Education. While some students may feel slighted if their needed programs get cut, overall this change in direction is beneficial. Students (especially science majors) will be receiving greater opportunities to increase their education, and local advancements in research will make CSU a more prestigious university that could be more alluring to potential investors in the future.
Imagine a college where higher education is taken seriously. A weak curriculum makes a bachelor’s degree feel like an expensive rubber stamp that everyone receives, like the participation trophy in little league. But if the university can challenge itself and the students to raise the bar, to go beyond the bare minimum or the lowest expectations, then perhaps students can graduate with a sense of pride and actually feel like they accomplished a major goal.