Transylvania Vice President for Enrollment and Student Life Holly Sheilley was recently featured by The Lane Report in its cover article on the value of a college education. Sheilley, along with higher education leaders from some of Kentucky’s public and private colleges, responded to a series of questions about what students attending college can expect as a return on their investment.
According to The Lane Report, “For most prospective Kentucky college students today, affordability remains a top concern, but they are more willing to pay for postsecondary education if they know they will receive a high return on that investment. Namely, a job in their career field soon after they toss their mortar boards into the sky on graduation day.”
At Transylvania, that success rate – placement in a job or graduate school – is 95% within six months of graduation.
The Q&A below is excerpted from original article. To read the full article, visit The Lane Report online.
Are today’s students more “transactional” in their choice of postsecondary education institutions, prioritizing acquisition of marketable skills in exchange for their tuition dollars?
Holly Sheilley: Absolutely. In today’s digital environment, information is more transparent and readily available for prospective students than ever before. This access empowers students to handpick institutions that are most likely to help them develop marketable skills and deliver post-graduation success. For example, at Transylvania, we have an abundance of interest in pre-health and pre-law, primarily because of our 100-percent acceptance rate to law school and more than 90-percent acceptance rate for recommended students to health professions schools. One of the top priorities of students and families is knowing they will have a long-term return on their investment.
What institutional characteristics do prospective students ask about or seem to value highly?
Sheilley: Ultimately, the goal for most students’ college search is finding a school that will give them the knowledge they need to walk away and be successful in their field. We tailor our liberal arts education to do that. Students often ask about our student-to-faculty ratio, which is designed to promote a comfortable, personalized environment in which to learn. The faculty-student relationship sets us apart; hiring only well-qualified faculty with terminal degrees in their field, instead of graduate or teaching assistants, increases the quality of teaching and learning. Resources are also paramount to students who understand the value of making connections outside campus. Internships and successful mentors outside the classroom make students more marketable in the workforce. They want to love what they do and have a career, not just a job. That’s why preparing students for a fulfilling career is our mission.
What is your “value proposition” to today’s students? What do you tell prospective students is the reason they should choose your institution over others?
Sheilley: When you leave Transy, you are going to be world-ready. Whether it’s going to graduate school or launching into the marketplace, you’ll be able to compete at the highest level. The success of our alumni and 95% placement rate six months after graduation validates the quality of learning at Transy.
And students are going to graduate in four years. Our students are in the workforce earlier than their peers. Many families don’t realize the national four-year graduation rate is 33%; a majority of students stay for year five and six. Transy has instituted a four-year graduation guarantee. Plus, our small default rate – 2.9% compared with 11.5% nationally for public schools – shows that the market values Transy grads and will pay for the quality they bring to the table.
Being marketable isn’t just about what you know, it’s also about who you know, and Transy is excellent in connecting current students to influential mentors who help them after graduation. We offer mentors, from alumni to community leaders, as soon as you walk in the door. The hands-on, personal learning experiences students will have – through internships, study abroad, research, and faculty relationships – are unparalleled. Our alumni network is expansive and is open to students for the taking. This, coupled with our location in Lexington, gives our students a significant advantage.