Letter to Our Students
July 28, 2012
The coming week will bring more attention to University of Phoenix and our commitment to your success. Some policymakers and members of the media will be writing and speaking about you. Much will be said about this University and the way our graduation teams work to serve you. I want you to know that from our faculty and staff, to the graduation teams that serve you, we are dedicated to continually improving so that you can achieve your higher education goals.
Some of our national leaders this week will question the value of the degrees you are working so hard to earn. They will ask whether University of Phoenix is the right place for you. They will debate the merits of a college degree. Sadly, this debate will take place almost entirely among people who have never met a University of Phoenix student, have never taken a course online, have never worked as part of a learning team, have never visited a campus or a Student Resource Center.
I wanted you to know about this debate, because it impacts you directly. I want you to understand the way the nation’s leaders think about higher education. Most importantly, I want you to know what I tell our nation’s leaders about you, the student body of University of Phoenix, whenever I am given the chance to do so.
- First, you must know that leaders in this country think of college students as teen-agers—not working adults. I always speak of you as adults, and I tell people that they have not met a college student until they spend time with a busy adult taking classes at University of Phoenix. I tell them, “University of Phoenix students have backbone. They are hard-working adults with grit and character. More of our leaders in the U.S. need to meet them.” People are surprised to learn that our students are working professionally, serving in the military, caring for families—all while earning a degree. You are the face of today’s college student. You are one of nearly 350,000 University of Phoenix students and will one day be part of our alumni family that today proudly stands at 700,000. The path you chose is unfamiliar to many Americans.
- Second, many leaders in this country misunderstand the future of higher education. There is no one-size-fits all approach to postsecondary education. The mission of all institutions should be the same: to provide a quality, accredited, flexible, rigorous and relevant education.
That’s how many politicians misunderstand University of Phoenix and how we fit into the higher education landscape; here are the other facts they fail to recognize:
- Our students make tough decisions about borrowing to finance their education. Like most college students in America, many University of Phoenix students take out student loans to help finance their education. I know most of you view this as an investment in your future. And I hear from students time and time again that they simply could not attend university – at University of Phoenix or anywhere else – without federal student loans. I remind U.S. leaders that we are absolutely committed to helping you minimize debt and realize a return on your investment in higher education. I tell them that most of you are working adults, and that many of you earn salary increases from your current employers. In fact, bachelor’s degree students enrolled here in 2010 reported that they earned an average salary increase of 6.8 percent during the course of their degree program.
- Your career development is a top priority for University of Phoenix. We are investing heavily in the University’s Phoenix Career Services not only to help you prepare for future job interviews and enhance your resume—but also to connect you with new networks of employers, UOPX alumni, and opportunities for you to take your degree in new directions.
- We are investing every day in new technologies to make the learning environment even better. You’re familiar with ecampus.phoenix.edu, but we’ve also developed many new technologies on the cutting edge including mobile apps, adaptive learning, student workshops, online library, and the future classroom – called the classroom without boundaries. Many of the techniques first put to use by University of Phoenix – online learning, e-textbooks, collaborative learning teams and expert faculty practitioners – are now considered best practices in the higher education community at large.
- University of Phoenix is the leading producer of Bachelor’s degrees for minorities. No university in America demonstrates a greater commitment to diversity than University of Phoenix. 18 percent of our students are African American, compared to a national average of 12 percent. Nearly two-thirds of our students are women, and I have heard countless stories of your difficulties juggling school work, employment and being the sole caregiver to your children. I tell leaders in this country that you are an example to all of us; that you have character.
I often tell employers that they would do well to understand the experience, character and abilities of working adult graduates from UOPX. You should know that University of Phoenix is working with a growing number of employers, community colleges and industry associations not only to improve networking opportunities for our students, but also to develop specialized curriculum to meet workforce needs in critical industries and sectors of the economy.
Many of you have raised your hand to say you want to tell your University of Phoenix story to our nation’s leaders. You’ve told me how the University has impacted your life, and you have asked how you can help those outside the University learn more about what it’s like to be a student. I have set up a special email Inbox—firstname.lastname@example.org—for any student who wants to share his or her story. A member of my team will respond to any student who wishes to get involved.
You’ve put your trust in University of Phoenix. That’s a huge responsibility, and it’s one I take very seriously. It’s also an honor to serve you, and to watch—with pride—as you grow, and learn, and improve your lives. Every person who works for University of Phoenix is committed to your success, and so am I.
University of Phoenix