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Monday, April 2, 2012

Geography Matters at the University of Phoenix

Like many, I'm not sure what to make of the University of Phoenix. Thankfully, American Public Media is doing a full hour documentary on it and provided a preview in its weekly education podcast. (I highly recommend these weekly podcasts on education; they are just great.) Several things surprised me but I want to comment on the geographical aspect of Phoenix's campuses. Apparently, Phoenix was the first, back in the 1970's to start locating its campuses just off major highways. It provides huge parking lots for an "easy in, easy out" experience for busy students. Students seem to love it, especially compared the usual parking crunch at lovely quadrangle filled schools.

And, Phoenix markets it accessibility. The webpage with a nationwide map of campuses states:
If you prefer face to face interaction, there’s a good chance we have a campus location near you. In fact, we have locations within 10 miles of 87 million Americans.
I checked the locations in Massachusetts. One is indeed within 10 miles of me (crow flies) just south of Boston.
To better serve you, we’ve moved into a new location within a three-minute drive of South Shore Plaza. We’re conveniently located off of Interstate 93 North and South, Route 3, Route 1 and Route 28 North and South.
The Central Massachusetts Learning Center in Westborough is where business and MBA students go. It's right off Routes 495 and 9.

At one time it made sense to put the main campus of a state school in the center of the state; that's why Penn State is where it is. Today, however, what Phoenix is doing geographically is clearly working.