Steve Probst

Steve leads the development of Gray’s education industry databases, analytical processes, as well as several client relationships. He has pioneered new approaches to educational program strategy, city selection, location selection, and pricing. More broadly, Steve is a marketing, finance, analysis, and operations professional with over 20 years experience advising educators, automakers, retailers, financial service companies, and transportation companies. After 10 years at a major strategy consulting firm (now Oliver Wyman), Steve co-founded and helped grow a consulting firm (CFGW/Carlisle & Company) into the dominant player in its primary market. After that, as follow-on to a consulting engagement, Steve ran and revitalized a client organization while implementing a major process and systems redesign (which yielded $8 million NPV). Earlier in his career, Steve also created and taught a graduate Marketing course at Northwestern University. Recently, Steve has led projects for education clients in the auto and healthcare segments building predictive models, analyzing the validity of Ability to Benefit testing, and developing a program portfolio strategy across 30 campuses and 25 programs. Steve has a Masters in Management, with Distinction, from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and a BS from M.I.T.

Recent Posts

Achieving Curricular Efficiency

Posted by Steve Probst on Apr 8, 2020 2:43:39 PM

What if reducing overhead costs and cutting too-small programs were not the only practical ways to control college costs?

If a department offers five electives to serve 75 students, then the average class size for these electives would be 15 students. If the department adds another elective, all six electives would be likely to have enough students to justify offering these classes under typical policies. shutterstock_648204952However, the department would have just added to teaching load – and costs and potentially staffing – without increasing the actual amount of teaching and learning being done.

Topics: Higher Education, Curricular Efficiency, Programs Economics


The Youngest Bachelor’s-Degree Holders in Higher Education

Posted by Steve Probst on Mar 31, 2017 4:47:17 PM

We all have our stereotypes of hot new academic programs (Robotics! Brewing!) and obsolete ones (Blacksmithing!).  Brushing away the folklore, though, it is interesting to see which fields have the largest and smallest shares of younger graduates.

Gray studied all U.S. workers who hold at least a Bachelor’s degree, broken down by the academic field of those Bachelor’s degrees.  For this analysis, we considered degree holders under 30 years old.

Topics: Higher Education


ITT Tech Collapse:  What It Means for Community and Career Colleges

Posted by Steve Probst on Aug 19, 2016 2:30:00 PM

Radical cuts at ITT Educational Services, Inc. will have ripple effects across all career education institutions.  ITT is a huge institution, with roughly 40,000 students at 137 campuses in 39 states.  It plans to slash advertising and recruiting, which will cut starts in half, virtually overnight.  These cutbacks could have dramatic effects on nearby community colleges and career schools.  They are also an opportunity for institutions who can fill the gaps left in ITT's markets.

Effects on Career and Community Colleges

  • Bigger Local Employment Gaps:  While you may not love ITT, it produced tens of thousands of graduates who went on to fill jobs in local industries.  Without these graduates, your local employers may not be able to meet their needs for trained workers in many vocations, from computer technicians to nurses.  For example, ITT reported over 10,000 Associate’s-degree graduates last year in computer technology fields and engineering technology fields.  It also graduated over 1,500 Registered Nurses.  Local communities and employers are likely to ask career schools to step up and fill the gaps left by ITT.  
  • Uncertain Enrollment:  Surprisingly, ITT's demise will probably have less of an effect on community college enrollment.  Recent research indicates that for-profit career colleges do not draw from the same student segments as community colleges.  But, ITT spent a lot of marketing money, which stimulated demand not just for its schools, but for all career and vocational schools.  As this spending is cut, fewer students may seek higher education, which may reduce enrollment.  This decline may be offset by current ITT students who transfer to local career colleges after they learn about the school's troubles. 

Topics: Higher Education


Aligning Jobs and Grads:  Fixing Flaws in the Department of Education’s Approach

Posted by Steve Probst on Aug 12, 2016 1:30:00 PM

What do you do with a B.A. in English?

Well, if you look at the data provided by the Department of Education1, not much.  You can become a high-school teacher.  Fortunately, the reality for English majors, and bachelor’s-degree graduates in general, is not as bleak as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) make it out to be.

A few words of explanation:

  • BLS employment data and the NCES crosswalks from degrees to jobs (CIP to SOC) work reasonably well for academic programs that focus on specific vocational career paths:  students who major in nursing typically end up working as registered nurses.
  • However, more general academic programs, such as Psychology or Liberal Arts, are treated as if graduates are nearly unemployable.
    • The third largest Bachelor’s program is Psychology – but the NCES crosswalk primarily shows jobs that require graduate training (Psychology, Counseling, and Postsecondary Teaching).
    • More than 40,000 students who annually earn Bachelor’s degrees in Liberal Arts, General Studies, or Humanities match only to “Postsecondary Teachers, All Other”.

Topics: Higher Education