Starting a private college is rewarding, no doubt, but it is also challenging. You have to be extremely determined to go through all the steps dedicatedly to open a college and run it successfully. It is definitely a huge investment and lots go into the planning and processing. However, private colleges come with a benefit; they offer a smaller class size, which means personal attention and personalized teaching, which ultimately translates to better education.
Today we shall go through the steps to start a private college. If you are keen enough, our guidance will definitely help you.
Starting a College Looks Like
Starting a college is equal to starting a business; both have similar steps. But the most important thing is to have an educational philosophy you strongly consider sharing with the young generation. And, unlike a business, you will need to meet many regulations to ensure that you will be providing appropriate education and great teaching style to students.
You also have to work on your funding, as it could be the biggest hurdle, and decide the type of education you would like to provide – virtual or physical.
The first few steps are very important. They include assembling a planning committee, preparing a business plan, and finding out the purpose. In today’s time, when we already have quite a few great colleges providing quality education, you need to come up with a purpose that addresses unique facilities, policies, budgets, and education system.
The best part of a private college is that you can start it with as small as 50 members.
Steps to Start a Private College
Step 1: Identify Your Niche and Develop Your Mission and Vision
You have to identify a purpose, as in why do you want to start a college in the first place. How will your college make a difference in students’ lives? To identify your purpose, you need to find out what is missing from the present educational system in your city and then think the areas you can improve, in terms of philosophy, curriculum, extra-curricular activities, and teaching models. Some of the questions you need to ponder include:
- How can you tailor your offerings?
- What should be the fee structure that would separate yours from others?
- How distinguished your curriculum will be from existing ones?
- In what ways can you refine the student’s non-academic skills?
Make sure you thoroughly examine existing colleges from 360° view before you select your purpose. Your mission statement should correlate with your purpose and reflect on all your operations.
Your mission statement should contain a reason to start a college (probably provide education to underprivileged geniuses), educational approach (virtual classes), curriculum, and your goals. Don’t do this alone, you need people to guide you and help you. So, include your family members and ask their opinions. Ask them if they find your mission statement standing out from other colleges’. Ask your friends if they would send their children to a college such as yours. Your mission statement should be clear and focused so that it doesn’t require a verbal statement.
The mission statement is essential when you are applying for a loan from potential funders.
Step 2: Decide Your College Type
With the advent of digital technology, virtual colleges are gaining immense popularity because of its flexibility and convenience. That being said, you need to choose your preferred type, between virtual courses or physical premises. You can also conjoin both and offer virtual education from physical colleges.
For a start-up, we suggest that you opt for a virtual premise. Virtual courses lower overhead costs. You can also offer flexible training to students based upon their convenience. However, the challenge here is acquiring a great IT infrastructure with excellent IT protocols and security measures, and more than enough server space. You will have to hire technical experts to design a great virtual environment for students. You also must have adequate knowledge of providing virtual, error-free education.
On the other hand, real premises are expensive in many ways. For instance, if you build a college, you will have to fit in a certain number of students to attend your courses. You will also have to meet several regulatory measures, including health, hygiene, safety, insurance etc. You will have to choose a location that is safe to travel and have enough conveyance. If you wish for a physical college, search for a location that is accessible, safe, inexpensive, and profitable.
Step 3: Write Down a Business Plan
Okay, you should know this; an excellent business plan will act as the wheels to your wagon. College running is huge and highly regulated, requires funding and meticulous planning. And, that’s why you need a strong and comprehensive business plan. Do not attempt for a lean plan, rather we suggest to draw a traditional business plan with introduction, overview and proper headings for each element.
Funders and banks will look at your business plan to gauge your capabilities. The more concrete it is, the easier will it be to acquire funds. On the other hand, a business plan will help you to give clarity about your process steps and milestones. It will help you to evaluate your performance in achieving your goals.
The list of details you need to include in your business plan are: Vision and Mission statement, Board Members, Philosophy, Budget, Courses, Syllabuses, and Extra-Curricular activities, Operational plans, Educational Plans, Long-term and Short-term goals, Financial Plans, Funding, Marketing Plans, Management, Location, Transport, Staffing, Application etc.
Step 4: Gather a Team of Experts for Advice
Providing education is not an easy feat. You need continuous expert support and guidance from veterans of the field. Therefore, before you start charting out your educational system, syllabuses, and curriculums, connect with industry experts who can help in business management, litigation, finance, education, teaching, and staffing. You can seek help from founders of other colleges and ask for their suggestions and guidance. You will definitely face many roadblocks in your journey. Their guidance will help you mitigate the risks and cross the blocks effectively.
Step 5: Find Out Different Funding Options
In order to incorporate and run a business, you need funds. Funding is a major concern. You need operational funds until you break even. If yours is going to be a non-profit college, you can raise funds through foundations or individual donors. You can also seek support from the community. If it is going to be a business, look for other options like:
- Grant options. They vary from state to state. So, you may need to do some extensive research to find people who are in alignment with your educational philosophy.
- Bank loans
- Financial institutions
- Angel investment
- Contact local and state government representatives to find out if they are interested in supporting new college for social and economic benefits.
Step 6: Find Out the Mandatory Educational Laws and Requirements
Each state requires different licenses to be applied and various regulations to be met when opening a college. Your first stop should be your state’s Education of Department. To run the business legally, you will have to apply for a license and register your college. A provisional license will be approved immediately to get your college started. But, you will get the final or the ongoing license only after you submit additional information and details.
You may have to look for other permits as well, such as zoning permits, food, and safety permits etc. To get a clear understanding of the nitty-gritty of the rules & regulations and laws, hire an attorney. He will be able to walk you through the legal terms and procedures in layman terms.
Step 7: Form Your Board of Members
To run an educational institution, you need to have a strong committee consisting of individuals from various walks of life. All of you will be in charge of decision making, writing the rules and regulations, educational terms, ethics, and school culture. You will also be responsible for deciding the timetable, syllabuses, recruiting staffs, financing, and other administrative work. Therefore, the committee should consist of people with different expertise, such as law, education, business, finance, and marketing. If yours is going to be a non-profit organization, you will need to recruit a board of trustees to run the Org.
Step 8: Incorporate Your Business
If you want to start a non-profit educational organization, you must apply for a non-profit status, which is 501(c)(3), with your Secretary of the State. You will get the details and application form on the IRS website. However, if you apply for non-profit status, you must meet the requirements and operational conditions laid by the government for non-profit charitable organizations.
If it’s going to be a profit-generating business, you must obtain a license to run the business and register your business structure. You will also have to learn the various tax obligations pertaining to running a college. Consult an accounting expert for clarity. Once this is secured, apply for an EIN from the same IRS website and get an insurance policy to secure your business from legal claims and lawsuits.
Secure your loans next. We have already discussed the ways you can gather loans and donations. For additional support, you can conduct fundraising events.
Make sure you open a bank account for accounting your income and expenses.
Step 9: Establish Your Infrastructure
Now it’s time to establish your college infrastructure. This will be guided by your state regulation and the guidelines of the department of education. While forming the infrastructure, you will have to include the following:
- Operational procedures
- Enrolment policies
- Educational system
- Non-Academic Processes, such as Sports, Fine arts, etc.
- Legal procedures
You further have to decide the degree and courses you would offer. Some of this will be mandated by the department of education. Based on the state’s requirements, develop your curriculum and process of granting degree certificates.
After this, you have to put all your focus and efforts in hiring the first set of faculties and administrative staffs, including the principal, head of the departments, sports head, HR team, student counselor, and other support staffs. Make sure your pool is filled with qualified teachers. Do not go cheap on this department. They will be the backbone of your college. Invest time and effort in recruiting them.
Step 10: Advertising, Marketing, and Promoting Your College
You cannot skip this step. You cannot expect students falling from the skies into your college’s lap. Marketing and advertising are essential to get more students. Before you begin make sure your branding is in place, as in know what makes your college different from other. These are key differentiators. It could be ‘more focus on extra-curriculum activities’, ‘scholarship programs’, ‘unique timing’, ‘free lunch and snacks’, ‘technology-based teaching methodology’ or any other attribute that is in your college.
Start with word of mouth. Then create a website and print great-content brochures and pamphlets. If your state allows hoardings, then print that as well. Share your educational philosophy, programs and special elements, and images and videos of your college across all social media platforms. Make sure you offer financial and admission related information.
You could also promote your college by inviting higher secondary students from different schools and holding information sessions and events. Make use of all advertising mediums, such as newspapers, magazines, posts, blogs, and other digital marketing methods.
Step 11: Accredit Your College
Accreditation is important. It sets your college apart from diploma providing institutes that do not provide fitting educational programs or do not oblige to educational requirements to issue diploma certification. Accreditation also makes your college deemed as a reliable and efficient educational institution. You can apply for accreditation only after you have begun teaching. Accreditation is a certificate that you will be awarded only after your college is reviewed by a peer review group against quality parameters set by them. There are quite a few notable regional and national recognized accrediting agencies. The choice is ultimately yours.
We have included everything you will require to start a private college. However, you may get doubts and questions. Do not hesitate to comment your queries below. We shall get back to you at the earliest.