Friday, July 18, 2008

Usng Informercials to Sell Education


During my visit to California last week, I had to take an unexpected brief side trip to the emergency room at 3 am with my teenage son. He seemed to have overindulged, as teenagers are prone to, on some bad Chinese vegetarian food earlier that day in Las Vegas.

There is not much to do in an emergency room except maybe read and watch television while you wait. Fortunately, I had brought my Sudoku magazine with me.

I actually did not even notice the television until one young man, who wanted to hear more, got up and turned up the volume. I realized that he was watching what I thought was a news reporter covering a school graduation ceremony. After a few minutes, I realized quickly it was an infomercial for American Career Colleges. The "reporter" in question was interviewing new graduates singing the praises of their career programs.

One clearly exuberant grad shared that completing her medical assistant program had given her the chance of "life starting all over again." Another graduate shared, "American Career College has made my dream come true to be somebody."

Being very familiar with vocational training and career education programs, the program made me think again about what I admire about career programs that build lives and help people create new futures:

- Diversity of student population. This American Career College promotional program featured older graduates, disabled graduates and several ethnicities represented.

- Length of programs. The variety of career programs and availability of start dates offer students the opportunity for intensive, relevant training that lets graduates leave school and hit the ground running.

- Innovation. Having worked in both private and public post secondary, "traditional" higher education institutions for several years as well, I know that many are slow to react to market needs. Here was another example of innovation with American Career College featuring graduates in an infomercial with quality production value.

I think that the fact that the young man in the emergency room got up and turned up the volume so he could hear more, says there is an audience for such programming and American Career College is doing what they need to, to reach it.

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