Educational institutions need to think like a startup

I was having a conversation with a friend at a bar yesterday on this. Saint Peter’s University, where we both are students at, is in Jersey City which is just on the other side of the Hudson River from Manhattan. The university is broke, is having problems with declining enrollment and they chose to spend $68 million in building a new Student Center. The university also believes that this will boost enrollment.

This is wishful thinking and I will probably blog again on just the topic of the new Student Center soon. However, I feel that the money would have been spent wisely on cashing in on the major educational trends right now – primarily IT and entrepreneurship.

IT department at Saint Peter’s is a joke, especially the professor that I attended 2 sessions of the CS-180 class with. She took ages just opening up an application on her PC during class and just didn’t seem “up to speed”. Being involved in the NY tech scene for the past year-and-half, I know how much dearth there is for IT talent and Saint Peter’s is not trying to take advantage of that. I would like to use the example of the rise of General Assembly because they solved a problem that educational institutions were not solving for IT education. And mind you, Saint Peter’s has an adult education program.

The second trend is with entrepreneurship and it seems that at least Saint Peter’s is still stuck with Business Plans as a part of their education process. The rise of Lean Startup is another example which fills in the gap for entrepreneurship education. I think there is a big potential for a school to come up with a radically different entrepreneurship program as a part of their under graduate degree program. I have ideas on what it could be like, but that too will have to wait for another post.

I hope that educational institutions will ditch their traditional strategy and put on a startup hat to pick up on the hottest educational trends to take advantage of the opportunity. I know that Saint Peter’s can do with additional revenue, but it seems like they have no idea of the market that they are in at the moment. Saint Peter’s, among other educational institutions, need to think like startups because there is a lot of opportunity in education (in greater NY area).


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