In the words of Johnny Cash…“I hear the train a comin’”


Or, in the words of The Beatles…“I read the news today, oh boy …”


Only, it’s not me, it’s finally America’s Higher Education Industrial Complex.


A newsletter crossed my inbox today. It looked the same as every other day. But it was different. The headlines and coverage had an all-new feel…kinda like a new-car smell.

This higher education daily round-up is a traditionalist in the traditional sense of the word; or, should I say: has been a traditionalist in the traditional sense of the world of higher education.


It’s often chock-full of articles and links and commentary about how adding technology to the classroom makes higher education a better place; or that state governing bodies are abuzz with budget and enrolment worries for their higher education institutions; or the best way to keep tenure.


But, today was different. Here are three real headlines:


How boot camps are bringing skills training to college

State chambers of commerce partner on ‘work-based learning’

Understanding higher ed’s role in workforce education partnerships


Could it be? Are higher education traditionalists getting the new religion? Are they beginning to view actual, real jobs as equal in value to – or more important than – dissertation-level knowledge about classical French literature?


The real-world answer is: hell yes! And I’d often just leave it there.


It’s my experience at College Lead Exchange ( ), What’s Best for Me ( and Best Value Colleges ( that traditionalists do not embrace change well; that management and marketing educators seldom get an opportunity to speak to or enhance management and marketing in their own institutions; and that outcomes may not be a dirty word, but it sure seems to violate some kind of code of honor.


But hearing institutional leaders and traditionalists beginning to feel the pain of their customers is a true “about time” moment. Of course, I deliberately referred to students as customers; higher education folks hate that I consider their students to be customers whose interests it is to be served!  But, the drums are beating ever-more-loudly. Every day that college debt is debilitating; or theory is good in theory but less so in practice; or  that the urgency being felt on the buy-side of the equation (students) is forcing some on the sell-side (schools) to not only recognize the change but share it in an existential threat to their existence, change becomes harder to resists.


So, as May 1st declaration day has come and gone and more and more schools and their senior most academic, enrolment, marketing and finance executives are surveying the bleak landscape before them, there is one over-arching question that all-too many are asking: Now What?


Try this answer: