Thursday, January 27, 2011

Call to Action

I am sitting in my study watching the snow fall and figuring out when to release my staff for the snowy trip home. Presidents make lots of decisions, but none of them is as clearly right or wrong as the snow-closing call. In effect, these decisions represent a "call to action" for a leader, and they are both an opportunity to show that you care and a chance to be wrong. In the past few weeks, Connecticut has provided me lots of opportunities around this issue, so it has got me thinking about "calls to action."

Last night, President Obama talked about this generation's "Sputnik moment" and how it relates to the current economic recovery effort. He was making a call to action. Well, I am going to do the same — call you to action! America has long viewed higher education as a pathway to personal success AND the means by which the economy increases its competitiveness. That assumption is under assault from a variety of sources, not the least of which is the mounting cost of education.

On our end, we are working diligently to better measure the results of our educational programs. At Charter Oak we created the Capstone course so that students could reflect on their educational efforts and create ideas and products that showcase their skills and knowledge. We have also launched a Cornerstone course that will orient new students and refresh their writing skills. And finally, we have begun testing a "flagging system" that will give us early alerts so we can intervene in real time when students encounter academic problems. Implementation of these three concepts represent the College’s response to my call to action.

But you, as individuals, have a role to play as well. I challenge each of you to reflect on the value of the education you have completed or are currently pursuing. What was your call-to-action that sparked your interest to complete your degree? Put those thoughts into words. Share those thoughts with your family, friends, and co-workers. Send your thoughts to me via this blog. And eventually consider sharing those thoughts with the larger community in editorials, public forums and the like.

We all need to pay close attention to what our education providers are doing. At our end, we must be transparent and concrete about our outcomes. As our customers, you must help us understand where we are succeeding and where we must do better.

That is my call to action to all of us.


  1. My call to action was that I had realized that if I were to going to be able to take care of my family properly, I would need to be competitive in the job market in a way that only having a degree could provide. I already knew a lot about my field, but Charter Oak State College gave me unique opportunities to show that knowledge and earn credit for it.

  2. I can't really say that it was one thing in particular which sparked interest in completing my degree (I graduated from COSC in Jan of 2010).

    It was more a lot of little things... Like just getting older and seeing how badly I needed an education in order to be taken seriously. I also wanted to go to grad school (in which I am currently enrolled, and this can't be done without a Bachelor's degree.

  3. Ed: Your comment about the expense of education reminds me of the old expression "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance".
    My call to action came after I lost my embarassingly high paying job on Wall Street. I went from working 70 to 90 hours a week to nothing to do in a moment.
    Eventually, I started training as a Chaplain at my local hospital. I found myself surrounded by people with Grad Degrees, and a few PhD. I like to think I was as effective a Chaplain as any of them, given my "Rookie" status, but I was unable to continue past the first few steps of my training without a B.A. Some of these guys let me know about my "Reduced" status too, Trust Me.
    So, if getting a degree is what I need to serve my patients, my family, and The Lord, then I WILL get it. I hope to complete my coursework before the end of this year.

  4. These are great stories. Please keep them coming.

    I just came back from a conversation with Connecticut's Commissioner of Higher Education and our topic was "Returning Adult Students." His postion was that the state needs a policy/strategy around this important (and often overlooked) population.

    I will keep you all posted.


  5. My call to action came when I was working on my tribe's committee for constitutional reform. Research provided by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development helped our committee immensely. When I "discovered" the Harvard Project I decided to finish my Bachelors so I could apply to a Masters program at the Harvard Kennedy School. So, HELLO from Cambridge! Living the dream! :)

  6. I left college in the middle of my senior year to go a fight a war. When I returned home I was occupied with getting married, getting a job, starting a family and providing for them. I did this which included secondary school, undergraduate and graduate school for two daughters and my wife.
    The recurring dreams about the war have gone away but those about not finishing my degree persisted. The three and a half undergraduate years I found difficult and not very satisfying (similar to the war).
    I have always regretted not finishing my BS. This changed upon finding COSC. I am really enjoying the school whose format has enabled me to finish something I started a long time ago. The work is still difficult but now I really enjoy it. A good friend of mine attributed this to the fact that I have a lot more life experience and I am in school because I really want to be here. He's probably right. Since finding COSC my recurring dreams about not graduating have vanished.

  7. Ironically, my call to action came after paying for four years of my daughter's college education. I attended college after high school; however, for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the need to support my family as a single parent, I left school. Finally, a couple of years ago, I wanted to make a change in my employment. Despite the fact that I had continually taken skill specific CEU training classes over the course of my employment, I found my opportunities were still limited because I never finished my formal degree.
    As and adult learner, with full time job responsibilities, I found Charter Oak State College to be the perfect fit. The format, flexibility and on-line courses have enabled me to complete the courses required to earn my degree. I now see many new opportunities for my future, including possible new job opportunities and seeking an advanced degree. I hope to share experience with others. In fact, I was talking to a co-worker just last week, a young mother of two. She, too, has credits from her earlier college period. However, she left school when she got married and had her children. She is working on some Microsoft Certifications, feeling, as I did, that this will be sufficient for her career goals. I am encouraging her to explore Charter Oak State College. I know it will make all the difference!

  8. We consistently hear from our adult students that something changes about their openness to what College courses offer over the years. As Lamont suggests, this might be due to more life experience. Certainly, seeing your children finish school can be a powerful driver to satisfying your own collegiate ambitions. And all our graduates report that they missed career opportunities along the way because they had not finished their credential.

    But I find the context of each of your stories powerful and memorable. Career changes, military service, children graduating, family responsibilities and all the other life experiences that brought you to us.

    Keep your stories coming.


  9. It's has been a long hard road but it will all pay off in the end. I graduate next spring and can't wait to see what opportunities this great journey will afford.


    Vanessa S.