Tag Archives: adult education

The Great For-Profit Debate

27 Oct

photo from www.cramster.com

One of the largest current debates in the education spectrum is the value of online degrees versus degrees from traditional “brick and mortar” schools. Many for-profit universities, such as the University of Phoenix, DeVry University, and Brown Mackie offer online degree programs for students that are not able to attend college in-person on a full-time basis. Some view these online programs as an opportunity for adult students as they try to juggle having a family and a job along with earning a degree. Others believe these schools are making a profit off its students’ tuition in exchange for a degree that holds little value in the real world.

Now Congress is weighing in on the debate as well, which is forcing major changes for several of the largest for-profit schools.

This past summer, Congress proposed “gainful employment” regulations for the for-profit industry. The general premise of the proposed new laws is that schools that have too many graduates in default on their student loans will no longer be able to offer loans to incoming students. This would obviously have a catastrophic impact on schools that do not meet the required numbers.

Congress gets involved

Congress decided to step in after examining the growing number of college graduates in default on their student loans. Naturally, default numbers rose with the increase in unemployment. However, of all the default cases, a whopping 43% were graduates of for-profit schools.

This statistic led to the impression that a degree from a for-profit school was basically a worthless piece of paper. Media coverage was roundly negative and basically called for the elimination for the entire for-profit education industry.

Not so fast my friend

Then fall came around and things started to change. People who supported for-profit schools started to speak out. There were several rallies on Capital Hill and letter-writing campaigns to members of Congress.  Feeling the heat, Congress decided to push back the gainful employment regulations indefinitely.

This turn of events demonstrated that for-profit schools do produce satisfied graduates that go on to find meaningful employment. But like with anything else, the for-profit industry has its share of bad apples that could ruin it for everyone.

How for-profit schools got a bad rep

One of the major culprits of the for-profit mess seems to be accreditation. While some for-profit schools share accreditation with prestigious universities, others simply have no accreditation at all. This causes the most headaches for for-profit graduates once they begin their job search.

Unfortunately, some students do not perform sufficient research before entering college. Many students become excited about future opportunities and are motivated to begin their educational journey as soon as possible. Several years later they can’t find work because they have a degree that most employers in their field do not deem as valid. Meanwhile, they have accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in debt thanks to the student loans they had to take out to afford tuition.

Don’t blame the students

However, a lack of research on the students’ part should not receive all the blame for this mess. It has been widely reported that some for-profit schools use deceptive practices to get students enrolled. Many schools for have quotas for admissions officers to make sure they bring in enough new students to keep their jobs. Hoping to avoid the growing unemployment pool, admissions officers at some for-profit schools will tell a student anything to get them to enroll. This often means misrepresenting the value and specifications of a degree.

photo from http://i.ehow.com/images/a05/1p/52/detect-liar-through-language-cues-200X200.jpg

Do you trust this guy enough to invest 50K?

Plenty of unanswered questions

This issue raises some very important questions. Should Congress take away federal loans to schools that have too many students in default? Does the for-profit industry need regulated? Should colleges be able to operate without accreditation? Or should students have the right to attend schools regardless of accreditation? Let me know what you think!

Inventive Study Habits

19 Oct

One of my responsibilities at work is to teach a study skills session at the beginning of each quarter. We found that some of the adult students needed a refresher because they have spent the last few years out of the classroom and their study habits had become rusty.

Students brushing up on their study habits.

I am always looking for ways to improve this seminar, so I approach students who attended to get their feedback. Here are some of the things that I have been told were the most effective.

Study in different locations– This is one of the most enthusiastic responses I receive from students who attend the workshop. Apparently I’m not the only one that found this effective. Reviewing the same material over and over in the same spot just makes it all run together. Try changing things up next time you are preparing for a big exam. Spend some time studying at home if it’s quiet, then the library, and then take a trip to your favorite coffee shop. Location doesn’t matter, as long as you find a few places where you can focus.

Study the entire quarter instead of cramming– This seems like common sense but few people approach their studies this way. Instead of being stressed out and relearning material right before an exam, simply review notes and course material throughout the duration of the class. By the time the exam rolls around, you will have a firm grasp of the material and there will be no need to stay up all night frantically trying to memorize everything. A few of my students took this advice and their improvement was astounding. It just takes some discipline and it made their lives much less complicated by finals week.

This student should have started studying a LONG time ago.

Become an active reader– Some students struggle on quizzes and exams because of their reading style. They take the time to read the required chapters and then toss the book aside. When the time comes to retain this information, nothing is there. One simple way around this is to always have a highlighter in your hand as you read. Mark up key concepts. This will make reviewing so much easier down the road. I also suggest jotting down questions in the margins as you read. This way you will have them right in front of you next time you have the opportunity to ask questions in class. And don’t worry about reducing the resale value of the book. Some of my students use this as an excuse, but it’s not worth the extra $2.50 to get a “C” when you easily could earn an “A.”

Find your motivation– Sometimes it’s hard to get yourself up for a long night with your micro-economics textbook. Find ways to reward yourself in these cases. Get through two or three chapters and watch an episode of The Office. Or call a friend. Or eat a piece of cake. You know yourself better than anyone, so find whatever it is to motivate you to get through something unpleasant.

I could go on all day, but those are a few of the tips that students say have helped them turn a corner from average to the top of their class. What are some of your best study tips? What “outside the box” techniques do you use to help boost your grades?

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