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  • A History of Access and Innovation in Education

    It was the late 1930s and the country was still feeling the effects of the Great Depression. Men and women alike needed to work. Companies were looking to hire employees with formal schooling, and more and more people needed access to local postsecondary education.

  • “Not many people got a chance for a college education, not back then. Many people were lucky just to get a high school education.”

    Richard Ackerberg, graduate of the American Institute of Commerce

    Access to Education

    In 1937, a small school named the American Institute of Commerce (AIC) in Davenport, Iowa, opened its doors to do just that. And, in the years that followed, the individuals running the school remained dedicated to providing the coursework that would prepare students for the workplace. 

    While the proprietors of this small groundbreaking school were changing lives of many in the rural midwest, a man named Stanley H. Kaplan was creating access to education in his own right.

  • Challenging Traditions

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    Stanley H. Kaplan

    In 1938, Stanley H. Kaplan started as a small business offering tutoring services to immigrant families eager to expand their opportunities in America and improve their education. He believed that everyone deserved an education, and that with the right training and coaching they’d be able to attend the same prestigious institutions of higher learning that had typically been reserved for an exclusive class of society. He wanted to change the traditional attitude toward enrollment and create access for those seeking education.

    Over the next years and decades, Kaplan, Inc., grew to become a leader and innovator in tutoring and test preparation, aiding individuals preparing for entrance into colleges of every caliber.

    In 1975, the Federal Trade Commission concluded that test preparation like that provided by Kaplan helps students raise their test scores. This led to legislation to help make the university admissions process more transparent and encouraged more students to believe a college education was within their reach. 

  • “During our second year, we had about 500 students taking at least one course online. And so there was getting to be a larger amount of numbers.”

    John Huston, President, AIC 1979–1998

    Meanwhile, AIC, was making its mark in the education sector in Iowa — growing in size and course offerings. A momentous turning point occurred in 1999 when the school was included as 1 of only 15 participants in the U.S. Department of Education’s Demonstration Grant, allowing them to offer distance education courses via the Internet. It didn’t take long for the program to grow in popularity, thus growing the need for more educational support resources and know-how. 

    Kaplan, with its experience in creating and fostering innovations in educational access, was the answer. In 2001, AIC (which had recently been renamed Quest College) became Kaplan College. It was in this year that 34 students were enrolled to take all of their courses exclusively online.

  • A Foundation for Continued Advancement

    Today, Kaplan University continues to make advancements and expand its programs and accreditations. In July 2003, Kaplan College began offering bachelor’s degree programs online in areas like paralegal studies, information technology, criminal justice, and more. In 2004, upon receiving approval to offer master’s degrees in education, the school was officially renamed Kaplan University, raising the bar for its academic offerings. 

    In 2011, Kaplan University expanded opportunities for working adults by adding additional professional entry-level and ongoing licensing programs through its School of Professional and Continuing Education (PACE).

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