Happy 2022! This year, Bay Path University turns 125 years old, and throughout the year, we’ll be looking back and ahead, recognizing the special history of our school and reimagining what comes next. While reimagining education has been the Bay Path way since 1897, this particular anniversary comes at a time when the entire higher education sector is reflecting upon, reconsidering, and reconfiguring how, when, and where students attend college, and whether the entire concept of “college” will endure as we enter a new era.
As an institution that’s always been about career-readiness, we pay close attention to what employers value, the skills our students need to start and grow their careers, and how to deliver it all, practically, efficiently and affordably. Businesses and organizations are looking for employees who bring specific skill sets to their roles and are motivated to continually build upon those skills. As the lines between education and employment continue to blur, we’re heading toward educational options that are less constrained by schedules, locations and possibly even degrees.
Ongoing, stackable courses that ensure students have the essential skills and are meeting specified criteria present an alternative to formal degree programs. This credentialed learning model enables businesses to prescribe exactly which skills are necessary for a certain role, while providing a clear path for students to take in order to obtain that role and perform it well.
The courses are streamlined and self-directed, and they’re increasingly valued—by those hoping to continually develop throughout their professional lives and the organizations they’ll work for. While degrees have long been the price of entry to an entry-level position, the notion that education begins and ends in two- or four-year increments is being tested by the unbundling of degree programs and the ascending point-of-view that education is an unfolding, ongoing process of lifelong learning, delivered in short bursts of credential-driven upskilling.
As an institution focused on career-preparedness, credentials are part of our daily conversations, and our curriculums. At the same time, Bay Path has a unique history and identity built around support, community, connection and the personal transformation that comes from our holistic approach to education, one that champions our learners as much as the skills they’re learning.
Not only do we espouse the value of a college degree (In 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that Americans with a bachelor’s degree have median weekly earnings of $1,173, compared to just $712 a week for those who have a high school diploma), we also know that a lot happens on the way to that degree. Friendships are formed, deep discussions challenge us to think differently, leadership opportunities are presented, and by navigating these experiences, students have the chance to discover abilities, aptitudes, and new layers of confidence.
Inside Higher Ed blogger Matt Reed discussed the drawbacks of a credential-driven model in a recent post that highlights why the type of educational model we offer at Bay Path is so important to sustain.
Reed writes: “The notion of “unbundling” as a sort of consumer liberation works well for students who already have the social and economic capital to navigate or construct systems themselves. But the “guided pathways” movement has shown us that aggressive bundling actually benefits students who come in with fewer resources. Often, those students either don’t know what they don’t know, or simply have no slack to spend on pursuits that turn out not to matter. They need guidance and rules, which is to say, they need institutions."
We’re seeking a future that acknowledges and incorporates the fundamental practicalities of lifelong learning with the less measurable, but exceedingly valuable aspects of a Bay Path education. As we challenge ourselves to create a broader, bolder vision for our university, these are the questions that drive our conversations, inspire our ideas and guide us toward our next era.
Welcome to my official blog as President of Bay Path University. I’ll be using this space to share ideas, research, and perspectives connected to Bay Path and our unique role as an innovative, transformative institution. Through this blog, I hope to encourage dialogue and inspire critical thinking about topics that impact our mission, our students, and our community.
I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you and invite you to join the discussion. My inbox is always open firstname.lastname@example.org.