College Pete

Is High Point University Higher Ed’s Innovative New Model?

Is High Point University Higher Ed’s Innovative New Model?

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most adaptable to change.”
Leon C. Megginson

As many of my readers know, I’m both a former high school history teacher and mid-level executive at a Fortune 500 telecom company. It may seem an odd pairing to some, but my former career choices have served me well, as business and education continue to converge at a faster pace than anyone might have predicted.

And as a student of both, i.e.,education and business (MA/MBA, International Rel. and Business), I am certain that when this era’s history is written, the ability and WILLINGNESS to adapt quickly to ‘New Normals’ (i.e., changing conditions like technology, demographic shifts, globalization) will be the characteristics that distinguish the successful from the less so.

Which brings me to High Point University. Eight years ago, at a conference in Chicago, Jill saw a man named Dr. Nido Qubein speak. An immigrant and self-made billionaire, Dr Qubein had recently become the president of a small university in North Carolina. A year later, Dr. Qubein gave the keynote at a meeting I attended in Nashville. Though neither of us discussed it at the time, he (not to mention his vision for graduating highly educated and experientially prepared young adults) made an impression on both of us.

Fast forward a number of years to the Fall of 2013, and our first student matriculated at this unique and beautiful campus. He (my student) absolutely loves it. And get this, I think his mom might love it even more. Which may be a bit unusual for other schools, but appears to be the norm for High Point. Here are a few reasons why that might be:

For starters, the educational facilities are extraordinary. Seriously, Jill and I have visited many campuses (large and small) – neither of us has seen anything like High Point. Academic buildings with lobbies that look like Fortune 500 waiting rooms, so students will never be intimidated by those settings in the ‘real world’. Classrooms that more resemble boardrooms. A television studio with equipment so superior that one local newscast has opted to broadcast from High Point (using HIgh Point students) rather than from their own facility. They have a state of the art mock trading floor, which looks a little less mock than some I have seen at other schools. High Point also has this incredible ‘gaming lab’, which you will not see on any other campus, except perhaps at Google. Incidentally, High Point University offers the only game and design major in all of North Carolina. It’s impressive… and then we saw the dorms…

Which are jaw-droppingly impressive. I’m not talking Bed, Bath & Beyond decor — which believe me is gorgeous when compared to my dorm in college. Nope, I’m talking plush leather, marble floors and Granite countertops – and those were the mid-level suites. And immaculate. Seems High Point students understand the responsibility that comes with the privilege — to whom much is given, much is expected — and comport themselves accordingly.

And then there’s the various campus eateries (I can’t even call them dining halls – that would seem disparaging). The most impressive of which was saved for last. Doesn’t every campus have the equivalent of a 5-star rated steakhouse? No? Well this one does. And it’s open to students to dine in once a week (and yes, it’s included in the meal plan). But there is a catch – which I’m sure you were waiting for. So, here are the rules:

1) students must make reservations and if they ‘no show’ or show up more than 15 minutes late, they are banned for one month (longer for chronic offenders)
2) students must dress in business casual attire (men in collared shirts and slacks; women in work-appropriate dresses/skirts or suits)
3) The restaurant serves as an etiquette lab for fine dining. Students are taught and expected to adhere to proper meal and business etiquette at all times (bread plates on the left, glasses on the right and men stand when a woman gets up from the table)
4) In keeping with that theme, the restaurant also serves as a learning lab for global relations. There are monthly international themes and those customs are taught and must be observed on those evenings.

There’s a theme here – High Point is part traditional college (a holistic and thoughtful education is important and required), part life-learning lab (students are active participants in an experiential learning process – doing is as important as learning) and finally, part finishing school – the school conveys a certain standard of excellence in everything related to student life – You see that standard in everything. The attention to detail in the campus layout. The piped in classical music on the academic quad to stimulate learning (and culture). The extremely well-choreographed campus tours (you literally see your name in lights upon your arrival – see photo below). It’s all intentional and it allows High Point kids to live in a world that simulates real world success – they watch, they absorb and they learn to assimilate habits and norms that help them achieve that standard in the real world. And so far it seems to be working.

Unfortunately Dr. Qubein was not on campus when we visited, but we did have the privilege of meeting with Andrew Mills, the Vice President for enrollment who is as dynamic as you would expect. We also sat with Dylan Robinson, a 2011 High Point grad and the Florida Admissions Counselor. I expect we’ll see him again when he’s in town in October. High Point is a competitive school that has a unique pricing model. At about $40,000 (sticker), High Point has a relatively lower cost of attendance than similar schools — it also has a relatively lower than average discount rate. That said, High Point offers great merit and talent-based scholarships for students with good grades, scores and other skills or talents that will round out their class. If they want you, they will find a way to make a High Point education affordable.

Is it for everyone? Of course not. College is about fit (academic, aspirational, social and financial… and fit is personal).That said, I think High Point University is a place you have to see, both to really understand it and to absorb the power of its philosophy. If you’re touring the Greensboro area and looking for a smaller Division 1 experience (there is no football team… yet) in a suburban and southern setting, you should defiinitely add High Point to your tour. There are roughly 5,000 undergrads. Phenomenal facilities and campus. A rich, experiential learning environment. A culture of excellence and… an active social life to boot… there’s a cool Greek life village right on campus for those so inclined! This is the first year that High Point University will be accepting the Common Application (which goes live in two weeks). They’re expecting a big jump in applicants as a result. As such, you can be sure that Mr. Mills and his staff will be paying very close attention (as in tracking) its applicants level of interest. Why? Because yield (the number of students who they accept who actually matriculate) is an important factor in school ranking. Having a good yield is important and one way to ensure a good yield is to accept engaged applicants. So, if you do plan to visit High Point University, you should DEFINITELY HAVE YOUR CHILD CALL IN ADVANCE to arrange your tour, and you should expect to meet with an Admissions officer as part of your campus visit (translation – you will meet with an Admissions representative)… and you should make sure that your student dresses and comports themself accordingly.

I’ll be talking more about the importance of ‘demonstrating interest’, Admit Rates, Yield and Discount Rates (and how they all intersect) at  my college planning class on Tuesday in Pembroke Pines.  It’s at the SW Regional Library.  It’s free and open to the public and it will be full of information related to making college affordable in today’s times.  If you have a college-bound high school student at home, I hope to see you there.   Click here to learn more and to reserve your seat.

High Point

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