College for America Blog

Leveling the playing field with competency-based education [student case study]


Posted In: Case Studies, Students

May • 20 • 2014

“I wanted to continue to increase my earning potential and I knew a college degree would be the key.”

Like many in the hospitality industry, Kristopher Perez started at the front desk and worked his way up to a general manager (GM) role. Recognizing the competitiveness of hospitality, however, Kristopher realized that with his current skill set he had probably hit a plateau.

“Although I’ve received a lot of promotions and have done well in my current GM job without a college degree, I realized I was no longer on a level playing field with my colleagues who had gone to college,” said Kristopher. “I wanted to continue to increase my earning potential and I knew a degree would be the key,” he added.

When Kristopher found out that his employer, Holiday Inn Vacation Clubs, partnered with College for America at Southern New Hampshire University to offer self-paced, accredited degrees for only $2,500 a year, he realized the program could be his ticket to the next level. Since he was already very busy with work, Kristopher was worried he might not be able to juggle the combination of work and school responsibilities.

“There are only so many hours in a day, so it was exciting but also a bit overwhelming to consider,” he said.

Now, as a student at College for America, Kristopher loves the flexibility of his degree program. He can work at a self-directed pace, which he believes is critical to his success. “If I were following a traditional college curriculum, I would fail because I would not meet the due dates. But with College for America, when business demand doesn’t allow for attention on school, I have the comfort of knowing that I’m not failing—just delaying. And as my schedule opens back up, I can shift my focus back to school projects,” he said.

Kristopher also benefits from the support and coaching he receives in the program. His coach Polly helps keep him on track, organized, and supported.

“It’s like having a fitness trainer,” he explained. “Most of the things she says or recommends are common sense but are not necessarily common practice.”

And even though the projects in degree program are online, Polly regularly calls Kristopher to ask “How are you?” and “Can I help?”

Kristopher says the program has not only helped him develop new skills, but also to sharpen existing skills and savvy for identifying new opportunities.

“Google Alerts is an example of a great feature that I would have never known had I not been introduced by College for America,” Kristopher offered. “It makes it easier to keep up with and learn about things that could help my career.”

Now that Kristopher is developing these skills while also pursuing his degree, he can continue to support his family and be a role model for his son. And soon enough, Kristopher will be on an even playing field with other people who have a degree, and maybe even ahead.