Kaplan Devoted To Meeting Students Needs –

Kaplan University – a school offering online associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees as well as certificates and diplomas – decided to offer students the opportunity to try Kaplan out on a trial basis before committing to a program.

The Kaplan Commitment launched in November 2010 and allows students to take classes for credit for about five weeks. If students decide they want to continue past the introductory period, they will get credit for the completed classes. And if students decide Kaplan is not the right fit, they will owe nothing other than the application fee.

“We decided that one of our highest priorities at Kaplan is to be a good fit for our students,” said Thomas Boyd, Dean of the School of Business at Kaplan. “Doing this program the right way is what helps turn our students into lifelong learners of the university. The intent is to make sure the student is right for Kaplan, but more importantly, to make sure that Kaplan is right for these students. And they can find that out with no obligation.”

Since launching Kaplan Commitment, 71% of students successfully transition from the conditional period to regular enrollment.

Currently Kaplan enrolls about 8,000 students in its online business degree programs, which include an associate and bachelor’s in accounting, as well as an associate and bachelor’s in business administration.

The associate degree programs require completion of 90 credit hours and the bachelor’s degree programs require 180 credit hours. Students can pursue specific career focuses with the business administration degrees and can choose from different emphasis areas with the bachelor’s in accounting degree.

“We offer what is referred to as a generalist degree and we want our business students to have exposure to the important areas of business, because they’ll be more equipped if they know how all areas of a business operate,” Boyd said. “We offer the specializations so students can obtain expertise in a particular area.”

Boyd added that the emphasis areas for the bachelor’s in accounting degree are shaped to prepare students for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam, and the bachelor’s in business administration specializations are shaped to prepare students for appropriate career paths.

Kaplan’s online student support services include virtual tutoring centers, 24/7 academic advising, career services, counseling services, and student disability services. Students are also able to connect with potential employers via Adobe Connect rooms as part of Kaplan’s virtual career fairs. So far the university has offered two, one in 2011 and one in 2012. The first one was for accounting. They are set up so recruiters use the Adobe rooms to chat and speak with students. The students can obtain business cards and send their resumes out.

“Online support services are one of the most challenging things for schools,” Boyd said. “The infrastructure for the support services is so critically important if you want to do it correctly.”

Boyd said Kaplan continuously focuses on improving its existing degree programs to make graduates more attractive to employers as well as testing innovations in technology.

“We’re looking for ways to better link what employers want to the curriculum we offer here at Kaplan,” he said. “Our faculty members really are the hub of intellectual vitality. Sometimes, people overlook the fact that an online school can offer students what we are able to. We want to help people understand you don’t need a campus to do that.”

Boyd said the school expects to add new online programs in the field of financial services in the near future.

He shared that recent research of Kaplan graduates showed that 86% said the programs they completed met or exceeded their expectations, and 86% said their curriculum was relevant to their career goals.

“At Kaplan we have students who may be in professional careers pursuing their master’s degrees, and we have another group of students who may have a job they don’t like and are going to school to break out of a rut and find the career they desire,” Boyd said. “I get e-mails from students often telling me about how their lives have changed because of programs at Kaplan. There’s nothing better than hearing from an actual student how a program changed their lives.”

Kaplan University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Follow Valerie Jones on Twitter @ValerieJonesCMN