Wednesday, July 31

An Ivy League Credential

I'm just not sure how I feel about this to be perfectly honest.  This hits very close to home.

Cornell University (my undergrad Alma Mater) is offering a certificate program via e-learning where you can "add an ivy league credential to your resume."

That's a big claim!

For those of us who went to Cornell, or any other school for that matter, those four years of blood, sweat and tears resulted in something truly meaningful.  Not to mention the four best years of my life, meeting friends for a lifetime.  We created a lasting connection with the school that has carried with me every step of the way, both personally and professionally.

Now I don't mean to take anything away from continuing education - I teach at NYU after all so it would be hypocritical of me to knock it down.  I'm a big believer and supporter.

But a claim like that, to be totally honest, calls into question the BS, BA, MBA, or any of the other fully loaded degree programs, if in fact you can get the same "benefit" with an online course.

I'm just not sure how I think about it.

Brands are an emotional connection between a business and a customer.  I've certainly got one with Cornell, as do many of my friends.  I understand that the business is trying to expand, but I think they should pick a "benefit" that doesn't cast a shadow on the rest of experience.  It makes us feel like we were somehow cheated, or could have done it much easier.  The e-learning brand (which is a great program BTW) needs to come up with its own point of difference, IMHO.

It's certainly a signal of how competitive these programs have become, and I bet how vitally important they are to growing the schools.  This is a competitive claim that I'm sure grabs people's attention.  These programs generate incremental revenue above and beyond the "fixed" number of students these schools can handle in their core undergrad and grad programs, I am sure.  It's big business.

As an alum, I'm just not sure how I feel about it when it's put in those terms.

What's your experience?  Jim.

Jim Joseph
- President, Cohn & Wolfe NA
- Author, The Experience Effect series
- Professor, NYU
- Contributor, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post

And proud Graduate, Cornell University!

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