Monday, March 5, 2012

What does Charter Oak mean to you?

Recently John Ebersole, President of Excelsior College, published a book called Courageous Learning: Finding a New Path through Higher Education (Hudson-Whitman Press).  The book highlights some of the most creative approaches to learning available in higher education.  Excelsior College is an institution very similar to Charter Oak; in fact, Excelsior played a role 39 years ago when Charter Oak was being created.  It serves adults, is non-traditional, and like us, works to validate the prior learning of its adult students.  John was kind enough to include a section about Charter Oak in the book.  I encourage you to pick up a copy.

As I explained our programs and students in our materials for the book, an idea began to take form.  Wouldn’t it be interesting to find out—directly from you, our students and alums—what Charter Oak means to you?  We think we know what you value from our list of programs and learning options because we see what appears on your transcripts.  We know who takes tests, who uses portfolios, how many credits you each transfer in, and how long you take to finish.  In other words, we have lots of data that describe your activities, but we do not have a statement from you about what meant the most to you on that journey.

The list of things that might have made all the difference for you may have nothing to do with our programs.  It might involve an advisor, or a fellow student, or an instructor.  It might be financial aid, or a scholarship, or just the low price of a Charter Oak education. 

I am preparing my graduation speech, and I would love to include some of your responses in that address.  So please give some thought to the question “what does Charter Oak mean to me?”  Send me your answer either by email to or in the comments on this post.  And as always, I look forward to hearing from you.




  1. One word can summarize what Charter Oak State College has meant to me…possibility. I often pondered about the possibility of going back to school and finishing what I had started. Charter Oak State College has helped me realize my dream of finally achieving my degree. This seemingly daunting endeavor was made possible by attending relevant and exciting classes that consistently complimented my current and future career aspirations. Charter Oak State College provides people like me with the education they need in an environment where they can truly learn. After graduation I enter a new phase in my personal development. Charter Oak State College has prepared me for this new chapter in my life where I am now prepared to once again turn another possibility into a life changing opportunity.

  2. John, I'm responding to you by your first name because you deserve it. You see, many in your position at other colleges run a college where such a way of addressing a school's president would be frowned upon. Here at Charter Oak we all know better, because you and your staff have built a culture that is leaps and bounds ahead of even today's Ivy league schools. In fact it is one of the rare secondary institutions that is aligned with the requirements of the twenty-first century.

    I believe where you guys get it right, is that it is in society's best interest to have proud and productive citizens, not to try and allow a select few. You all do this by allowing anyone to get an education. It is symbolic of what it means to be American. A great experiment that is becoming a trailblazer in education. Great job to John and his staff.

    My main hope is that this model paves the way to an education landscape where this kind of opportunity can be found at all colleges.

    Charles Periut
    Senior at Charter Oak
    Organizational Leadership