by Alan Guinn, Dean of Graduate Studies Rushmore University
As the Dean of Graduate Studies at Rushmore University, I’m often asked what I believe is “the greatest set of attributes Rushmore offers its students.” I generally think about that question for a few seconds before answering; ongoing conventional wisdom should tell me to have an “elevator pitch” ready to go whenever asked that question, but I don’t.
Rushmore means different things to different learners. The most amazing part about Rushmore is that conventional wisdom is not always what is needed to illustrate the University’s best attributes.
Conventional wisdom says that Dr. Mike Cox should never have been successful starting Rushmore in 1995. A low-cost, online education, which requires writing papers about serious topics in real life and the workplace as opposed to reading a textbook, coming to a series of lectures, and being able to answer questions put to you on an exam? Why, who has ever heard the like?
Conventional wisdom says that after his death, the University would have diminished in both stature and in opportunity for students. But instead, the Faculty has gotten stronger, supportive, and complimentary of multiple programs we have implemented in the past 10 years.
Conventional wisdom says that all the negativity shown toward Rushmore by online “experts” and “antagonists” should have discouraged us and made us run home with our “tail between our legs”---somewhat akin to a dog, being caught digging in the neighbour’s flowers. I’m sure the naysayers thought we would do just that. Why? They were just always so right and they told potential students not to waste their money on Rushmore, because we were illegal, and unethical, and doing nothing but taking students money and showing them nothing. We were deceptive and entirely unproven.
Again, wrong, wrong, and wrong.
See, sometimes, online negativity becomes so fragmented, and “experts have no ability to detect success,” and things both written and said are so “off the wall”-- that you just have to laugh. So much was written that was not just erroneous, but bordered on libel. I read about myself and how I didn’t claim where my degrees were taken. I actually watched a Professor from another University give his students inaccurate information about Rushmore….and about me, personally, for heaven’s sake. And his students thanked him and appeared so grateful for the erroneous information. And then closed the discussion board so there could be no response, no challenge, no correction of misrepresentation.
Sometimes, one group can see the future of the education pathway just a little more clearly than those who believe their method of learning is the ONLY method of learning. We know that’s a fact.
Rushmore University flies in the face of “conventional wisdom.” We’re prospering. Our learners are gaining worldwide recognition in the process. Today, over 60,000 follow Rushmore Pulse—a daily summary of top News Stories impacting business. Haven’t read it yet? It’s the best 7 minutes you’ll
spend all day. It’s news without the politics, without the slant, without the negativity of the “letter TV networks.”
As acting Dean in 2005, it was gratifying to me that a fully AACSB Accredited, Southern Association University invited me to a day of planning, helping THEM to implement THEIR online MBA program. Talk about turnaround. I believe that day was the day that I realised Rushmore University was here to stay, and that I didn’t have to really worry about the naysayers. Especially since the day was four years after I had two regents from the North Central Association tell me that Rushmore could never be an accredited University since we had no brick and mortar campus, had no intention of affiliating with a brick and mortar campus, and certainly—with all our students studying online—we had no plans to create or build a brick and mortar library with 250,000 volumes.
All of these guidelines, to us, harkened back to the early 1900’s. They had nothing to do with Internet connectivity and learning. They had nothing to do with changes in business that were occurring, and for which students were not being prepared. They had nothing at all to teach about social media or entrepreneurship, or building businesses online. I’d dare say few of their books in their 250,000 volume libraries that qualified them for their exclusive accreditation club even mentioned developing a website or maximising it for business use. But feel free to graduate from their institutions, and find that your degree isn’t what you need to succeed.
Chartered Management Institute has certified Rushmore as a Certified Learning Centre. We’re in front of an EU Accreditation Board for development of studies for three different online College MBA programs, and one Brick and Mortar Program. We have analysed what students are missing from their undergraduate and graduate college education. We have executed relentlessly for the past 20 years I’ve been aboard. Relentlessly. Why?
Students are not learning what they need to learn to get ahead in the world, and the saddest part is that they don’t even know it. And they won’t recognize it until they are put into a position where they are expected to know about topics they have read about, but have never implemented. Never.
They are not being taught lessons which will prepare them for “the world” when they emerge from the protective liberal cocoon of collegiate studies at football schools. Dr. Cox referred jokingly to these Universities as “football schools” because they normally have highly-rated football teams. Every fall quarter or semester, you can pay a huge fee and go cheer for your football school. But beware…you may not be achieving the education you will need when you graduate.
Many of us that teach at Rushmore are entrepreneurs, or authors of books, or own businesses, or are Senior Executives of Businesses. 97% of us have terminal degrees. Employers love to see big name school graduates, but they aren’t so pleased when they have to take the time to train someone with an MBA how to manage a business unit. The graduate studied the material, read the book, got an “A” in the course, but had zero practical knowledge, and certainly could not be trusted to take over a $50 Million dollar business unit and be responsible for its profitability through all the key result areas.
Several years ago, I wrote to a Rushmore applicant who I had turned down for admission. He was terribly offended to be refused admission, and blasted a hole toward me the size of the hole in the ozone over the poles. He told me all he had studied in his undergraduate studies at a prestigious school. Funny thing---he knew all the “catch phrases” and the “hip terminology” for a business grad, but didn’t understand it, and couldn’t use it in a sentence or explain what those items were to me in a way that illustrated to me he had even attended the school he claimed to have attended. Perhaps his theory was “fake it until you make it.”
What is so different about Rushmore?
Rushmore offers alternatives to you on how to think, how to make decisions. We allow learners to learn how Blockchain and AI can change the world around them. The professors who teach them are real-world business owners, not tenured Professors who haven’t changed lecture notes in dozens of years.
The school teaches you how to prepare yourself for the future, not the past, and in many ways not even current time—in ways which will make others stand up and take notice. Rushmore teaches you how to read effectively, and write effectively, and we employ an editing team to help you learn to write clearly and succinctly. If English isn’t your first language, you’ll improve your English skills. When you write, you learn to write and communicate your ideas fully, in fewer words.
More than that, however, Rushmore helps learners learn to analyze and create their own future…for themselves…not what the University thinks it should be. Many of Rushmore’s learners use their study projects in their jobs. They use the papers they write as chapters in books they create while they are students at Rushmore University and they publish those books. They are able to create free-thinking followers of concepts they either prove or disprove during PhD or DBA study.
If this sounds like something you would enjoy, check out Rushmore University online at www.rushmore.edu. If not, that’s ok…we understand it takes someone for whom self-discipline is understood, for whom learning is a pleasure, and who realizes that they don’t know everything they need to know for the next 20 or 30 years--- and want to position themselves for the foundation to prepare for what life will present as opportunity.