Tag Archives: college admissions

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!

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