GCU seeing growth in more ways than one

Grand Canyon University has been making some big moves lately, going all in on aggressive expansion. From new buildings to residential halls to a brand new business school program, GCU has pumped more than $1.2 billion in infrastructure into its West Phoenix campus, and the theme of expansion isn’t just relative to bricks and mortar as the university is boasting efforts to grow the student body.

Last fall, GCU set out to turn back the clock and go back to its non-profit status. Skeptics thought this may stifle growth in the overall student count, but instead it has only increased attendance, and that’s due in part to the new Colangelo College of Business program that opened this year. The 150,000-square-foot building houses 81 offices and 61 classrooms on the east side of the campus, making it one of the biggest schools of business in the United States.

What’s more, the numbers detail an even more drastic increase in growth. In 2009, GCU was teaching about 1,000 students. Compare that to today’s tally of around 19,000 students and it’s clear to see where the university is headed.

GCU has also put efforts into making itself a landing spot for rest and relaxation for the general public. While it is a university with college kids scrambling from class to class, it’s also a destination for golf enthusiasts, sports fans and people staying over for a couple days. Parents who fly in to visit their child studying at the university can stay at the on-campus hotel where they can also dine-in. I

Now, GCU is boasting its promising partnership with banking and brokerage firm Charles Schwab. The university and the financial company are teaming up to offer students an opportunity to be prepared for exams related to careers in finance.

Anyone working in securities or finance must pass certain exams before they can actually work in their selected field, even with a degree. The most well known exam, the Series 7, is a gateway to a thriving career, but only boasts a 65 percent pass rate. But before students are able to take the Series 7, they have to be sponsored by a firm, such as Schwab. This is where the partnership comes in handy, especially at a time when GCU is touting the new Colangelo School.

The collaboration allows students to prepare for the exams while still enrolled. In one of GCU’s new finance courses, students prepare and sit for the Securities Industry Essentials exam, which goes over the basics of the securities industry and includes work in understanding the fundamental concepts of working within the industry.

“Since the coursework was designed in partnership with Schwab, it’s also perfectly aligned to industry needs and standards. In addition to helping students perform well on the SIE, the class prepares them for the demands of the job,” Mark A. Jacobson, Finance Chair of the Colangelo College of Business, said. “For Schwab, the course is creating a pipeline of job-ready graduates. This is important because there’s a shortage of talent in the industry. For students, it’s an edge in the job market, especially since firms are offering higher starting salaries to graduates who have passed the SIE.”

The second part of the partnership focuses on helping students in their final semester of college. The class will have the Series 7 exam in the curriculum, propping students up to pass the actual test as soon as they graduate.

“In the past several years, a major focus of the Colangelo College of Business has been in curating a varsity-level board of advisers along with partnerships with top companies in Arizona and across the nation. This has enabled our students to complete valuable internships, meet prospective employers, and get real-world experience,” Jacobson said. “Our goal, always, is to arm our students with the skills and expertise they need to be successful in the workplace, but also to become servant leaders.”

Nick Esquer

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