It started with identifying a need and grew into a successful franchise with over 2000 stores. It required understanding the consumer’s wants, perfecting the product, delivering fast, and making it affordable. Yes, this is the story of a “freaky fast” gourmet sandwich company that started in 1983 with a 19-year old in Charleston, Illinois who knew that simplicity, consistency, and tenacity was all it takes to make a difference.
There is a similar need not adequately being met within higher education. It’s a global desire for an education that provides real world knowledge capable of being delivered at an affordable cost and, in some cases, on demand. It requires a culture-shift to drive change. Outcomes assessment is more than just measuring and monitoring student achievement. A comprehensive assessment program provides valuable data that is used to transform how curriculum is delivered and demonstrate how educational offerings are meeting students’ needs. Often, we focus on barriers that are preventing change, instead of focusing on the areas for improvement.
Higher education is missing the opportunity to unbundle education to allow students to earn needed academic credentials in ways that best meet their individual learning style. There are three things higher education can learn from the Jimmy John’s Principle:
- Simplicity. The pathway to education and earning a credential should not be hard. Educational options should be transparent and straightforward to allow students to make informed choices that best meets their needs. It’s important to provide options for students to validate learning that takes place inside and outside of the classroom.
- Consistency. Students want options, but also want assurances that institutions are providing quality education that meets the needs of a changing economy. It is higher education’s social responsibility to assure students that no matter the option, the quality of the curriculum delivered is consistent.
- Tenacity. Higher education needs to abandon the “us vs them” discrimination. For-profits, non-profits, public, and private institutions, they all serve a purpose and a specific population. Education is a collaborative effort directed to the same shared purpose of allowing students to receive the education they need to take care of themselves, give back to their community, and change the world. The goal is to become better for the sake of the students being served.
Higher education needs to develop a new culture. A culture that understands its students’ goals and provides options, not obstacles in attaining them. When you identify the need, simplify a solution, and refine the process; the desire and passion to improve is a natural result.
What are you delivering to meet students’ needs?