5: Emerson College’s Approach to Integrating Adult Education on Campus w/ Lesley Nichols

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Lesley Nichols, Executive Director of Professional Studies at Emerson College, discusses the integration and shared resource benefits of bringing adult and continuing education departments off their own island and into the fold.

Find a breakdown of this episode here.

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...marketing and helicks education, andwe're here today with Leslie Nichols Executive Director of professionalstudies at Emerson College Leslie thanks for joining us today. Thank you.Marick, we're going to have a great conversation today about Emerson wasable to take their professional and continuing e department and fullyintegrate ed into the rest of the college and the awesome results thatmove s had, but before we get into that Leslie. Can you give the listeners alittle bit better understanding of both Emerson College and your role theresure so, for those of you are not familiar. Emerson College is a smallprivate, liberal Arts Institution located in the heart of BostonMassachusetts. We are really known for communication and the arts, so it's aliberal, Arg school that combines communication and really innovative andcreative ways were probably best known for our film program, which wasactually just named one of the top ten in the country just a couple of daysago, which is fantastic, grs also known for our journalism program, our writingprograms performing arts, everything...

...from musical theater t acting ourpolitical communications program. Last year during the elections, you may haveheard our pulling society on television trying to predict some of those results.R. We have just under five thousand students for our enrollment. Themajority of those are undergraduates, but one of our big initiatives istrying to grow our graduate population. So my role in professional studies atEmerson is really to help integrate what we would call professional orcontinuing education for working professionals, adult learners,integrating that better with the rest of the college's academic programs, soeverything from graduate certificates and graduate decrees all the waythrough the student Lifecycle, even serving high school students with ourprecollege programs, which serve as a pipeline into the UNDERGRAD programs atEmerson. Awesome. I'm so excited to...

...talk about this because I think adultind continuing a departments are often outliers on campus. They often haveseparate governance, often with separate resources. Talk about thebenefits of integrating these continuing EAD departments into therest of the college. You know, I think there are so many benefits to doing soand throughout my career, I've worked in continuing ID, probably over half ofthe time. I've speen an higher Ed and, as you said, they definitely tend to bethe outliers or the the stepchildren to some people say of the main campus. Butone of the things that I found really exciting at Emerson with the initiativeto try and bring professional studies more into the fold. Is this notion ofbeing able to work with a much broader audience and diversify the audiences atEmerson? You know so much of our population now is no longer thetraditional residential. You Know Eighteen Yearold, a twenty two year oldstudent that still exists, but we're...

...seeing more and more people even ofthat age range who have full time, jobs, they're juggling work in school andthey really need some more flexibility and how they attend college. So I seethis is a really great way to bring in adults of all ages into the fold,bringing with them a variety of work, experiences, opinions, culture, different ane ranges.It just brings so much diversity to the classroom and also opens up brand newaudiences for the college to serve your president. provose were critical tomaking this integration happen at Everson, including the hiring of yourposition. Why do you think it was such a priority for them, given Emersonstudent breakdown of the time, and why is it so important for senior leadersto buy into this concept of bringing a Dole Education into the fold? Well, Ithink there's a couple of reasons. As I mentioned, Emerson's traditionalpopulation has been comprised primarily of undergraduate students. We do have agraduate programs, but over the years...

...you know, we've seen some decline ingraduate enrollment, and a lot of that, I think, is around how our populationhas changed and trying to adapt to the Times. So adults are looking forsomething much more flexible. That will fit their lifestyle, and I think youknow, through some market research, that the college had performed. Theyfound very quickly that one very interesting fact about Emerson was evenfor our graduate programs. The audience that we were attracting is much youngerthan the industry standard. So, typically, you know. Most colleges inuniversities will see a graduate population comprised primarily of know,individuals who maybe have been out of school for a few years. They are intheir bachelors, they have some work experience and then they come back fortheir masters, but here at Emerson they were finding that the bulk of theirgraduate population was straight out of their undergraduate degrees. So therewas definitely an opportunity from an...

...audience perspective that we weremissing a lot of adults who were you know above the age of thirty, andespecially in a market like Boston which is incredibly crowded. You know Ican't even count the number of Os an universities we have here, but Emersondefinitely has a very unique value proposition in the type of programmingthat we offer in a type of hands on training that we provide. So I thinkthey saw a market opportunity, and that was one thing, but I think also anotherfacet was trying to grow online programs and in most universities, thatI've seen the professional or continuing education unit tends to bekind of an innovator in that area and trying to bring in new technologies newways of delivering programming. So I think that's probably the the cruxs ofwhy they really wanted to have this partnership. But I think, as we build,it will see even more benefits along the way, let's say you're able to getexecutive support at your college or...

...institution. Now, let's talk about howto do this when so much current in prostructure today is set up anorganize around the traditional student. Where did you start at Emerson withthis integration? So now we're getting to the hard part actually implementing? You know, Ithink some of the challenges, especially in this day and age, is thatwe're in a twenty four seven society. So any student, any customer expectstwenty four seven service and yet colleges across the nation even acrossthe world, are really set up on a different model. You know where we haveMonday through Friday. You know eight to five type of business model, so Ithink you know some of the first stages in trying to make this reality, we'reon the technology side, so trying to provide some solutions that enablestudents to have more of a selfservice experience so that they have certainthings they need to accomplish off hours when a staff member may not behere to assist them. We're not preventing them from doing so we'retrying to enable them. So that's...

...everything from being able to registerand pay for their classes. You know from being able to put in arequest for a transcript, maybe for it help service after hours. So thetechnology, I think, is probably the first area where we started and westill have a lot of work to do in that area and then the other area, I think,is really more of th the support everything from student advising tostudent accounts and the registrar you know: How can we better integrate thoseservices for adult learners, but also make those in a way that it'sconvenient for someone who may have you know a day job and they can'tnecessarily get advised during the day. But you know, could we provide someservices for them on the weekends or after hours? That's awesome and whatone benefit that you talkd about offline, that I love you to chet aboutis talk about the Roi Benefits of shared resources and marketing, spendwhen promoting your programs, together with the rest of the college versus offon an island or even a separate...

...department, doing its own thing, yeah,there's so many benefits and I feel, like things are just coming together sonicely memorson's, currently undergoing a complete brand. Revamping, and one ofthe areas that were working on is a complete website overall and theexciting thing about that is. I think everyone is on the same page about trying to help perspective studentsfind what they're looking for. So, let's just say, someone is interestedin get screenwriting program. You know they may not know in advance if theywant a graduate degree. Maybe they just want o certificate, or maybe they evenwant one course. You know as we're set up right now. They really have to kindof dig through the website to try and find all of these different options.Thut part of the new branding initiative will be combining theseresources so that someone who's looking for that topic could come to thewebsite and immediately see all the variety of options they would havewithin that field. So that's kind of...

...one exciting area that I feel willreally benefit all the program, Sait Emerson, also from the marketing Roistandpoints. As we are spending money to promote you know our new graduatecertificates. We can promote this alongside graduate degrees, so you knowwe're not spending extra money and resources from a staffing perspectiveor from an advertising perspective to advertise similar programs to possiblysimilaar audiences and spending double the money. It's n awesome reminder to:Let's, let's give the student as seamless of an experience as they canwithout having them be whimed to our internal organization or lower lackther of really good remind Ye. Finally, can you share some of the earlysuccesses you've seen so far with your continuing Ha Department being fullyintegrated with the rest of the college? Well, I well stay say it's still a workin progress, but along the way, I think probably one ofour most exciting initiatives is the...

...launch of our first graduatecertificate, which will be an entrepreneurship and that launches thisJanuary. Already we have over two hundred inquiries, so there'sdefinitely some interest out there. It's also primarily an online programas to that's something that kind of fits in with our mission of growingonline and providing more flexible options and graduate certificates. WeRelease Yeu as a growth area for the college and Professional Studies isreally serving as the INTERMEDIAR, so we're working with the academicdepartments to develop, launch implement these programs, and we havereally strong partnerships that we've built with our enrolment management,team and admissions with the marketing team, with advising to really make thisa seemless experience. So I think that should be one of our early successesand we have several other Grad certificates in the pipeline gettingready to launch next year. I think the other exciting thing is ourprecollege program, which is a high...

...school program of academic enrichmentin the summer that ties in directly with Emerson's undergraduate degrees,and that is serving as a really successful pipeline to bring newstudents in Demmerson, as undergraduates we've seen a lot ofsuccessive for the past year and integrating our application system forprecollege with the undergraduate and graduate and mission system. So all ofthe students then are using. You know the same resources, the same process,the same systems to be able to enroll and we're able to then sort of use thiscrm to create a full life cycle for a student all the way from high schoolthrough, possibly a graduate degree if they stay with Emerson long enough. SoI'm excited about that possibility and really growing that over time, awesomereally really exciting stuff leslie. Thank you so much for joining us today,sharing all the great things you're doing at Everson and really being aninspiration and aspiration for all of...

...us who want to have a more integrated,a structured or at our college universities. What's the best place forlisteners to connect with you if they have any followe questions, I'd welcomeany listeners to connect with me either on twitter and my handle is leslie a mymiddale initial underscore nickels. They can also connect with me via emailand my email address is leslie under score. Nichols at Emerson, dot, dduawesome thanks. So much for doining us today, Leslie. Thank you eric. Iappreciate it. You've been listening to enromantgrowth university from helicks education to ensure that you never missan episode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player.Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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