Interviews with interesting local tech companies.
When and how did your school get started?
I started as a computer programmer in 1978 and tutored people in programming. The tutoring I provided included studying and preparing them for job interviews in computer programming, working with different agencies and helping them to get a job.
By 1985, I had about 50-60 students. At that point I decided to make it more official. I applied to New York State Department of Education to get a business license for the school and then on July 1, 1985, we opened our first class.
The name of the school was Advanced Author Analysis, because the only program that we were teaching was computer programming, and our first class was 12 people.
Then in 1988-1989, we introduced new programs in bookkeeping, accounting, medical billing, fields of medical assistant and that’s how we started to grow. In 1990, we moved to Brooklyn and we rented 17,000 square feet. Now we have 100,000 square feet in Brooklyn and we’ve started an expansion into Manhattan
What’s distinctive about the school?
Our graduation rate is around 50 percent, which is significantly higher than any other two-year degree college in New York State or in the country. The average graduation rate in New York State is 26 percent.
Our placement rate is 83 percent. Why? We put out student progress reports, which help us identify the performance of every student on a weekly basis. If it goes below a grade B, that student is a target for us, and that student goes to the learning center and has one-on-one sessions with the instructor.
We invest millions and millions of dollars into the education of our students. Our library, for example, is the largest among private colleges. We have international students in our college from over 116 countries. We are really an international college; the people were born here and came from various New York neighborhoods. We are very happy to expand our offering to people who are living in other boroughs–not only people from the five boroughs come, but people from New Jersey, Westchester, and Long Island.
Every employee knows that I am not the one who pays their salaries, the student pays their salaries. So if we don’t instruct the student appropriately, that means the student is not going to pay us.
Another thing that’s distinctive about ASA is our standards. Students starting at our college have to have at least a high school diploma or a GED. Some colleges accept students who did not graduate from high school, but we want to maintain a certain quality of teaching.
What’s the most satisfying part of your job?
We conduct our graduation ceremony in Madison Square Garden. That’s just an indication of our philosophy and approach. At our last ceremony, one of the speakers asked the students, “Please raise your hand if you are the first in your family to graduate from college.” About 85 percent raised their hands.
To me, that means that ASA has created a very special environment that helped people to understand that it is achievable, that they could do it.
As you know, a lot of schools closing down, and enrollments are going down. How do you face those challenges?
Let me put it this way, it is simple for us. You analyze the market requirements. You analyze the industry trends. You figure out what is in need of the industry, in the need of the country, in need of the state, in need of the city.
Based on that, you develop of program, which is going to teach people specific skills. You make a skeleton, now the next step is you involve consultants, you involve experts from industry, from academic fields, you form a development committee and you plug in the elements. That’s how we do it, it’s very simple.
Of course, it is very challenging to us to be able provide products that the community can use for growth. We know that we have an excellent educational product and we want to be able to offer this educational product to the majority of people that need the product.
It’s great to see the accomplishments of this college in regards to our students finding their calling in the business environment. Our greatest job is for all our students to graduate, get a job and have an impact to the community.
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