These days, going to school is a normal thing. Even from the remote regions of the planet, we see a great leaning from being an agricultural life to academic. School is the big thing of this century of computers, and the Internet.
But these schools would have not lasted if they had no academic strategic plans. If business establishments have academics strategic plans, so do the schools, academic institutions, and universities. This is the system that holds the mission, vision, and goals of the people involved in the academic community.
The school owners, administrators, heads, principals, supervisors would not be able to carry their vision, mission, goals if not for the academic strategic plan. This is the executioner in the form of a letter, of words. And is very powerful. It is a system. It commands the people without even telling them.
Let us begin by examining other forms of strategic plans. The most common is the workout strategic plan. Some would use the term 30-day workout plan, 60-day workout plan, or a 90-day workout plan. But basically it is just the same as academic strategic plan.
And what is there in a workout strategic plan? In a workout plan, you have basically a guideline that the trainer will have to follow for a certain amount of days. The goal is to make it easier for the trainer, or the muscle builder, to achieve his goals, his target: efficiency.
The academic strategic plan works that way also. It somehow tries to help the students and the teachers to realize their goals in the most efficient way. There is no question, every school wants their students to learn. But the real problem is in the realization of the said target—students learning.
In a workout plan, the target or the goal is to have that dream muscle. Although, it does not always have to be like an Arnold Alois, the Terminator, Schwarzenegger body. But there should be that ideal muscle that was already in the mind of the one making the plan.
So, in what way does it help the students realize their goals efficiently? Let us use the student framework here before going to the bigger picture, which is the school or the university. At first, it may sound like it is not helping the students. Why, because an academic strategic plan gives people a sort of guidelines. These guidelines or set of rules are there to be followed. We can use one example: on how to pass the academic year. A student does not just go to class for days and reach the end of the year being able to graduate. No. It does not work that way. He has to do something. And the strategic academic plan tries to give ways on handling such situation. An academic strategic plan would try to invite students to pass not just in the finals, but also in all the exams and quizes as well. In a way, it is like a workout plan. Although in a workout plan, the target is the muscle.
But an academic strategic plan does not only target the students, it targets the whole institution. So the scope is bigger. We may say a plan for a student is called a strategic study plan, but a plan for an institution is an academic strategic plan.
Another parallelism between a strategic academic plan and a workout plan is the organization. In a workout plan, you organize the exercise in a gradual manner. You do not do 50 push-ups at the start of the program and with the same number of push-ups at the end. It should be gradual, perhaps start with 10 on the first day and maybe end with 60 on the last day of the program.
Same case with academic strategic plan. You start doing the easy lessons and end with the sophisticated ones in the end. That is the usual way of organizing the lesson content—from the less complicated lessons to the most difficult.
Another way of organization is by way of timeline. The usual way is from the oldest one to the most recent. And we find this in many historical subjects.
An academic strategic plan is much broader. It looks beyond the needs of the students, beyond the needs of the teachers, beyond the needs of the administrators, the operators, the owners of the institution. So its plan is not limited to study plan of the students, or the lesson plan of the teachers, or the administrative plan of the staff. It is all of the above in combination.
A simplistic view of a school’s academic strategic plan is for their students to pass. However, that is no more the trend these days. That could even make an institution a laughing stock if that is the only thing found in their academic strategic plan.
Here are other matters or aspects that should be part in an academic strategic plans.
If students are able to pass the subjects, if they are able to graduate, then that is a good thing. Congratulations. But there is more to life than passing grades. Creativity is a skill that is sometimes overlooked in many institutions. It is a good move that some schools are slowly adapting creativity to be part in their academic culture. It is overlooked because creativity could sometimes mean the opposite of academic, it goes the way of the academics. But it actually is not. It is just the use of intelligence in a divergent approach. A teacher may say this and that, but the student may do this and that. That is very un-academic. But the goal could just be the same, to pick that ripe apple in the vineyard. So if you see an academic strategic plan from a university, check if it encourages creativity.
We may have different approaches to understanding morality, and our religious orientation is a big factor. If you are a Muslim, you do this, but if you are a Christian, you do that. All the same, we want to be moral, and we want our gestures and motives to be socially acceptable. If you are a Christian, would you go to an Islam school? And the same question the other way around. If you have no religious orientation, would you enroll in a religious school? And then, the other way around, also.
What does the school feature? Is it arts and humanities, or sciences? Is it both? Today, most schools do not make a segregation between the two or any line of subjects, because there could be more. Also, there is that thing called general education subjects. But will that affect your studies if you make emphasis on one over the other?
Would you mind if the people around you do not speak the language that you speak? Is it okay if you cannot understand a word or two every time they speak? Would it not bother you if they are all white and you are dark? Or if you are the only one white while they are not? If you do no mind it at all, how do you think it would affect your studies?
What is the percentage of the students passing during the bar or board exam? How many of the graduates are able to land a job? A sensitive institution would make sure such issue is handled.
These are some of the issues or factors that a school would consider in making an academic strategic plan. How do they resolve these issues in their plans? If you do not mind this at all, and all you care is just to pass and be able to graduate, then that is fine. People could make that as the minimal requirement in many schools. But remember, you or your parents are paying for the school’s tuition. And that is very expensive.
Another factor is the tuition. A school tuition is very expensive and will cost a lot of fortune. Check if part of the school’s academic strategic plan is to help the less fortunate students by way of scholarships. And scholarship does not need to be coming from the schools themselves. There are many third-party groups that provide scholarship for students.
Some schools are sports oriented. Usually, these are the schools that provide scholarships to their varsities. If you are into sports, maybe good at playing basketball, then you can take advantage on this kind of school that offers such. This can be a stepping stone for some who are really planning to land in a serious sports association such as the NBA. NBA teams usually would draft players from schools. If you want to be the lucky one, start an active athletic lifestyle.
Having said all these, you can check many samples from the Internet on how each school or an institution differs one from the other. And you may have to choose which one favors your interest and for your own personal academic or study plan.
So to answer the question what is an academic strategic plan, it is an organizing system, a device to help people in the academic world achieve their goals. Because a school or a university will always have some goals, one way or the other, but they may not have an academic strategic plan to help realize that goal.