By: Max Crampton Thomas
2 min read June 2020 —With a history spanning more than 119 years, Rasmussen College is well-positioned and experienced in adjusting to unforeseen circumstances like the current pandemic the world is working to eradicate. CEO Tom Slagle spoke to Invest: Orlando about the school’s advantage as a leader in online education for over 20 years. He also spoke about the school being welcomed by the community in Orlando as one of the newest entrants into the local higher education sector.
How is Rasmussen College positioned in Florida?
Rasmussen has been around since 1900. Rasmussen College acquired Webster College with campuses in Holiday and Ocala, Florida, in 2004. These campuses were merged into the Rasmussen College system in 2007. Later, the college expanded into Fort Myers, Tampa and Orlando. Overall, we have campuses in six states and a national online team serving more than 17,000 students. Healthcare education is a strength for the college, particularly licensure-required fields such as nursing. We are the largest producer of ADN (first licensure) nurses in the country and also offer a bachelor’s (BSN) and master’s in nursing (MSN) and soon a doctoral (DNP). We pride ourselves on providing affordable degrees and a student support network with individualized services. Our primary target market is the adult learner seeking to advance or change their career, more so than the traditional high-school graduate.
What role does the school play in the Orlando education sector?
We are excited about our new campus in Orlando. We believe we pinpointed some real gaps in the local education market. Our healthcare portfolio is a great fit, and our offerings in business, technology and social services are also in strong demand. The opportunity to provide affordable and relevant credentials that employers are seeking from graduates is where we excel. Our goal is always to be deeply engaged in the communities in which we live and work, this is why we believe in our local campus network. Our programs offer tremendous flexibility with many fully online, but they also provide the campus-based learning environments necessary for labs and simulations. We have been welcomed by the employer community in Orlando and have developed strong relationships with the local healthcare institutions, which support our graduating students with employment opportunities. We want Orlando to become one of our larger campuses in Florida over the next three to five years.
How has COVID-19 impacted the college?
We have been an online leader in education for almost 20 years, so we know how to educate students in an online environment. It is not always simple to incorporate the proper content, curriculum, experience and assessment criteria on a digital platform, but fortunately, we have a lot of experience in that field. As an example, all of our nursing simulation, which typically takes place on campus or at clinical sites, was moved to an online environment, allowing no disruption to our nursing students’ educational journey or graduation. Also, we have seen that individuals displaced by the current environment want to build on their knowledge and competencies to better prepare themselves for the current and future workforce. We made the decision to support our communities by providing our eRasmussen Professional Certificates portfolio (eRasmussen.com) at no cost. We’ve had nearly 9,000-course registrants for the professional certificates so far. We have also sought ways to support our communities by donating much of our PPE to local healthcare organizations to ensure their readiness during this pandemic.
Which industries are driving the strongest demand for educational programs in Orlando right now?
Healthcare is probably top of the list, but we are also seeing strength in areas like technology and other business-related programs. Many applicants are looking for short-term certification to improve their options once they rejoin the workforce. Our Early Childhood Education portfolio also continues to perform well. Our model allows us to serve a segment of the population that has traditionally been underserved by other institutions. We are tremendously optimistic about the breadth of opportunities in the Orlando market.
What does the future hold for Rasmussen College in Florida?
With the economy potentially moving into a short-term recession, education tends to be countercyclical. As individuals are out of work, they look for ways to position themselves in a competitive market with enhanced skills to get a better job. There are also many people looking to make career changes, and we can help with that and make our local communities stronger. Our enrollment rate has continued to grow, and we believe that demand for our programs will remain strong given the unique experience Rasmussen provides our students.
To learn more about our interviewee, visit: