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By Tim Hunt

Making wise college choices

Uploaded: May 31, 2022

When John Jackson wants to get national college leaders’ attention, he will introduce himself as a Christian college president from Northern California. Chiropractors do a robust business from all of the necks snapping around from his colleagues he joked in a recent luncheon meeting.
Jackson heads William Jessup University in Rocklin, a city east of Sacramento. Its roots are in San Jose and it has a satellite campus there. He shared his concerns about societal trends and trends in higher education. He pointed out that there are 1.5 million fewer students enrolled this year compared to before the pandemic and 73% of them are men. He views higher education as the “social lift” for first generation students that can propel them to success in life. If those young men end up working in other than the skilled trades—and those take training—then their ability to provide for a family will be limited.
Jackson also noted the trend of people getting married later in life and having children later. Speaking from experience (he and his wife have raised five children) and said that there’s a big difference between having kids in your 20s and in your late 30s or 40s—energy does count.
The cost of college also is a major concern. He said it simply costs too much and “the value is uncertain these days.” The $1.7 trillion in student debt, 20% of which is non-performing, is troubling for our economy to say nothing of those wresting with it. He related how he’d been meeting with parents and students about college choices and costs and seen just how challenging it is (viewing it through a parent’s eyes).
For Jessup, his answer is to significantly grow the Jessup endowment so earnings can pay for scholarships. Among the groups they are actively targeting are young people in the foster care system who have horrible outcomes without outside help.
Moving forward, he believes education needs to be flexible, distributed and affordable. One takeaway from the pandemic is that isolated online learning is not effective. Jessup online offerings will include a live segment where the students will engage with the instructor. One Jessup distinctive is that a staffer calls every student at least twice a month to stay in touch. Students are known there and that’s at a school where enrollment and programs are growing significantly.
It's notable that the for-profit University of Phoenix, which has specialized in higher education for working adults, now has shuttered all but one of its campuses and moved to online instruction.
Incidentally, Jackson wrote two books during the pandemic: “The Prevailing Church” that lays out the challenges faced by Christian churches today and the opportunities to impact the society as well as book on selecting a college and the questions that should be asked, “The Right Choice.” As you’d expect, he thinks a rigorous liberal arts curriculum is the foundation for any student these days as it’s been for centuries.
Speaking of books, Pleasanton businessman Kevin Commerford’s book, “Champion Mindset” lays out how he runs his business, Service Champions. The story is a novel, built around a new woman employee at Champion Air Conditioning. She could have headed for a four-year college, but instead was invited into a career as a technician.
It’s a fast and enjoyable read as Commerford lays out the principles he uses to run his business that growing toward $75 million in annual sales. I believe it was Charlie “Tremendous” Jones who wrote that who you will be in five years will be determined by the books you read and the people you hang around with. Commerford’s book adds that plus the reality that attitude is everything.
The CEO in the novel, Joe, is based on Commerford’s real life mentor, Joe Christiano, the retired CEO of Kelly Moore Paints and founder of Northern California Entrepreneur Mentoring Group.
Having been in the Service Champions facility in Pleasanton I can attest that Kevin has written about the attitude that he strives to perpetuate in his organization.