This year, Capture’s very own Thom Golden, VP of Data Science, was selected by Louisville Business First as one of the Top 20 People to Know in Education. Thom is a seasoned veteran in higher ed, having spent more than 17 years in the industry. Below is a Q and A from today’s Business First Article:
When asked what he likes best about the work that he does, Thom said, “Capture Higher Ed promotes an enrollment management approach that utilizes rapid iteration and innovation cycles to prototype and test strategies that best achieve clearly defined institutional goals. We define the vision, we prototype, we try new things, we measure, we succeed and fail, we learn, we improve. I love that. This type of innovation development approach is dramatically different from the long form, contingency-based strategic planning paradigm that is common in higher education.”
How can we boost student achievement in the United States?
Education as a field suffers from deeply siloed data systems as it pertains to measuring student achievement, making insights difficult to come by. I am encouraged by the development of P-20 Statewide Longitudinal Education Data Systems (SLEDS) that allow educators, researchers, and policy makers to better track achievement from pre-kindergarten to the workforce. Through initiatives like these, I am hopeful that Peter Drucker was right when he wrote “what gets measured, gets managed.”
Is higher education right for every student? Explain.
Some form of post-secondary education or skills training is not only right, but also necessary in a knowledge economy. If you were to ask me whether every student in the United States should pursue one form of higher education (such as a four-year residential college) then that’s a different matter. What’s happening now in higher education is a tremendous broadening of formats and pedagogies to better serve students of a range of backgrounds and needs (whether it is community college, trade education, accelerated and online programs, adult-learner focused, and many others). Our focus should be on ensuring that all students have access to the type of post-secondary education that best fits their needs.
Describe an experience with a student that was very gratifying to you.
Early in my career as an admissions officer at a large state university I had the opportunity to meet with a student who was trying to rebound from a rough series of semesters in high school. He was a self-described “late bloomer” who only recently had started to apply himself, and in so doing, had discovered his lofty ambitions. We talked at length about how he could enroll at a local community college and earn his spot in the engineering school, which was and still is, among the top such programs in the world. He was undaunted and stayed in touch with me from the day he received his acceptance letter to the day he graduated from that top engineering school.
What do you wish more business leaders understood about the challenges educators face?
Despite the many innovations and renewed entrepreneurism we are seeing in education, the core methodology of schools have remained unchanged for centuries. Innovative educators who are championing change often face numerous organizational and cultural challenges. This is in part due to the fact that educational institutions tend to have a greater focus on process consistency than on the creative flexibility commonly found in business. This tension of opposite cultures is a necessary reality if education is to meet the needs of a knowledge economy but it requires broader perspectives such as those of business leaders.
What skill sets are missing most from young people entering the work force?
What is interesting about the data science team at Capture Higher Ed is that not a single one of us has a statistics or mathematics academic background. Everyday, we develop world-class predictive analytic solutions with a team that is nearly 100 percent self-taught. This is not that unusual in fields like data science that emerge and evolve at breakneck speeds. I would encourage young people to develop the habit of thinking across disciplines, being playful with new ideas, and to cultivate an intense desire to learn new skills whether or not they have a certain pedigree.