American Institute Opens Cottontail Lane Campus, Offers Several Vocational Programs

American Institute president Christopher Coutts, left, and campus president Jamil Gilmer, cut the ribbon Jan. 4 at the new Cottontail Lane campus.

High school and college graduates looking to learn a vocation have another choice in the township.

The American Institute formally opened its doors with a Jan. 4 ribbon-cutting at its new school, located at 80 Cottontail Lane.

The institute, which has two other schools in New Jersey and five in total, will offer courses in dental and medical assisting, computer systems, administrative office procedures and diagnostic medical sonography, said Christopher Coutts, the institute’s president and chief operating officer.

There’s even a course in massage therapy.

Classes are set to begin on Jan. 9, Coutts said.

“We’re looking for our first big class start in February, and our biggest one will be March,” he said.

When it’s fully functional, the institute will have about 30 employees and about 300 students, he said.

Students will attend classes on the campus from 8:30 a.m. to 2:40 p.m., with night school running from 6 to 10 p.m., he said.

Students will attend on split schedules, Coutts said.

“They’ll come on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and then do online courses for the rest of the week,” he said. “Then, about halfway through the course, they come to school on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and do online for the rest of the week.”

Tuition ranges from about $12,000 to $32,000 for the programs, Coutts said. He said financial aid is available.

The programs’ terms run from six months for full-time day students to 18 months for night students, he said.

Students will graduate with a diploma, and can also receive help in finding a job from the school. They’ll also be able to sit for formal certification tests in their field.

The 6,200-square-foot Cottontail Lane campus is typical for an American Institute school, Coutts said.

“A lot of our competition is very big, between 20,000 and 40,000 square feet,” he said. “We try to keep it small.”

Coutts, who started acquiring vocational post-secondary schools when he was 25, said he picked Franklin as a location because “the population in Franklin is a good dynamic. We have a school in Toms River and we have a school in Clifton, so this one is right in the middle.”

The space has been built out so that administrators can take advantage of changing trends in course offerings.

For example, a traditional classroom is outfitted with sinks so that it may serve as a lab for the medical assistant program should that prove to be more popular than expected, Coutts said.

Other classrooms have movable walls that can be opened to provide more room for a class if necessary.

Coutts said students at the institute are treated like family.

“So when we sit across the desk from a student, we say what if this was our child, what’s the best thing for him,” Coutts said. “That’s how we operate.”


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