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Paths to the Future: Family Costs - #3 in a Series by Tom Kennedy, Hyatt-Fennell Executive Search

“If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.” – Jack Welch.

There are many causes for the fragile status of our institutions, but the purpose of this blog is on costs, collaboration, and steps to consider.

Family Tuition Costs

It is pretty evident that the cost of tuition coupled with the downward spiral of federal/state support is jeopardizing our private schools. Graduates are being saddled with years of debt without the assurance of getting jobs commensurate with the value of the degree. Parents and students question the pay back for a private college degree.

Personally, I have two grandsons attending community colleges, one in Arizona and the other in Kansas. I expect that after two years both will matriculate to four-year schools with no debt incurred. Since both are athletes and good students, they are hopeful that scholarships may be a part of the next two years and that family debt will be manageable.

How can our private colleges take advantage of the junior/community college option? Many private colleges now have extensive articulation agreements, but it is time that more relationships should be considered. In some instances, we should be looking at 3+1 arrangements.

Three years at the community college plus one year at the 4-year institution requires more extensive collaboration and academic counseling at both ends, but perhaps we should be deliberating how we can be “senior colleges” offering the 4th year plus graduate studies. Parents would jump at this opportunity for their kids.

To paraphrase a Jesuit expression: “We go in by their door, in order to come out by our door.” The mission of our institution may be stamped on their major fields of studies.


Tom Kennedy is an internationally recognized leader in higher education with more than 50 years of experience, both in the classroom and in executive leadership roles. Tom has consulted with over 100 U.S. based and international colleges and universities and specializes in accelerated and online delivery of adult education.

Tom’s higher education leadership includes the establishing of New Ventures of Regis University, a private, non-profit, and as founder of the Online Consortium of Independent Colleges and Universities (OCICU) where he was responsible for the development of online academic consortiums with more than 80 colleges and universities. His proficiencies additionally include management of student affairs, athletics, development, and collaborative partnerships.

By working closely with organizations such as the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) and the Association for Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), Tom is entrenched within the culture and challenges of private education. He has facilitated corporate partnerships with Coors, AT&T, StorageTek and Federal Express. He has served in the diverse roles of board chair, president, vice president, dean, coach, and faculty member and helped to create a dual-language program for Ana G. Mendez University System now serving over 2,500 students in Florida, Maryland, and Colorado.

Tom Kennedy offers experience, vision and leadership to guide colleges and universities in charting the course for a new era in higher education.

tkennedy@hyatt-fennell.com 303-877-8978