The Most Important Tool for Finding the Right Degree Program

Artificial Intelligence. Algorithms. Automated Decision Making. These are a few of the tools (not all of which start with an “A”) that are integrated into the modern service economy.
Companies spend billions to make the sending, receiving and processing data as fast and efficient as possible, and in the process look to eliminate human decision making whenever possible.
This isn’t a new trend, and it’s one that has evolved from the wheel to the printing press, from the Industrial Revolution to computers. We can purchase almost anything based on how code interprets our needs and then selects an appropriate solution from a database of options. The perfect house, the perfect car or even the perfect mate is all just a form submission away.
People often ask about the tools we use in our work to research the ideal degree program. The truth is that the most important tool isn’t some top-secret, next-level technology.
In fact it’s over 140 years old.
Our most important technology is the good old-fashioned telephone.
These days the phone is more likely to be a source of spam calls than anything else. In fact my kids use their phones for everything BUT calling. So why are we focused on such outdated technology?
The fact is that most working adults, no matter how experienced, don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to purchasing higher education. That’s why, according to a 2017 Gallup survey, 51% of Americans would change a major education decision if they had to, and a majority of students will attend multiple institutions before graduating.
Our process is focused on having a deep understanding of both sides of the equation – the student and the school – and having conversations to make the information detailed, customized and understandable. A few examples:
  • An important part of our initial conversation is ensuring the client is actually prepared to go back to school. I can promise you this isn’t a part of the conversation an admissions counselor will broach, much less an online form.
  • We want to get a sense of their career goals, their degree focus and discuss additional degree options to consider that may help them reach their goal. Why? Because it’s not about the career you have it’s the career(s) you want to have.
  • We want to patiently explain the difference between semester credit hours and quarter credit hours….why programmatic accreditation may or may not make a difference when selecting a short list…why some MBA programs have 12 courses, some have 10 and some have 16…and why “finish your degree in a year” isn’t actually a real thing.
  • We want to hear firsthand from the school who developed the curriculum and what their background looks like. We may want to hear that person walk through a syllabus, or maybe explain why they chose an 8-week course length vs. 5 weeks. We may talk through the options to waive an entrance exam for someone who may be a few months short of the work experience required for a waiver.
  • Most importantly we want to have a discussion to review the information that we gather. We want to push when we ask, “does this all make sense?” and we hear a hesitant “Yes”. We want to discuss the pros and cons of each option and break down the degree plan with detail and energy, so that it’s an actual plan of action and not yet another to-do list.
Having a conversation is the difference between conveying information and conveying expertise, and it can make a huge difference in spending tens of thousands of dollars on a good degree experience vs a great one.
Would an interactive experience based on a real discussion make a difference in the degree search for you or your employees? See what ClearDegree does to convert information into expertise.