Markets do most things very well. There are simply some areas where the model
breaks down. This is one of them.
Nothing, absolutely nothing, that advertises that much on television is worth
the price. Not drugs, not shampoo, not toilet paper, nothing.What
kind of fool throws money at these places? The answer is a desperate one who
actually believes that these profit universities will find you a job to make you
a fortune. These same people also believe that a certain breakfast food will
make the family perfect and that your new cleaning device will make housework a
pleasure, and your home fit for House and Garden magazine.PT Barnum
sure knew his Americans.
A friend of my son decided to go to a for profit college. He got a degree of
business/computer. Upon graduation he couldn't get a job. People he
interviewed with said the degree didn't teach enough about computer that
they could hire him for that, nor enough about business that they could hire him
for that. He had spent $40,000 and was saying he would have to get another
student loan and get another degree.
If it isn't an Ivy League School, Northwestern, Stanford or Cal-Berkley, no
college education is worth 100K. Ouch!
Well . . . I graduated with and MBA degree from the University of Phoenix in
2007. GE, the company I was working for at the time, was willing to pay for my
tuition, and so I went for it.The UOP was just about my only option
too. They had a special arrangement with GE at the time (maybe they still do, I
don't know), and that was the way to go.Since I was working
full time and traveled a lot, an online degree through the University of Phoenix
made sense. I actually enjoyed the learning experience, and I really got into
it.I did invest a considerable amount of time, effort, and
dedication juggling school with everything else, so yes, I am disappointed to
hear that an MBA from the UOP isn't exactly respected now by some
employers.But I did not have to pay the thirty something thousand
dollars for tuition, AND I do have an MBA now, and I think I'm the better
for it because I learned a lot . . . So I guess I can't complain.
Having been in the position of hiring graduates of various schools for a
position in a professional field, I have interviewed students from both public
and for-profit schools. The graduates of the for-profits never interviewed
well, and upon being asked: "If I were to hire you, could you sit down and
begin doing X immediately", the answer was invariably "No".Many of these schools teach a subject in a week or two and move on to the next
subject. Students have no grounding in the basics after such rushed coursework.
I guess I'm one of those managers who has a poor perception of
for-profit schools. But my perception has been proven by experience.
@Rule of Law – “Similar audit studies have shown that
employers' perceptions tend to be racist and sexist as well.”I don’t think these two situations are analogous.With
the first, we’re talking about deep seated prejudices that have germinated
for hundreds or perhaps thousands of years, whereas the latter is simply about
making practical judgments on the value of someone’s education. One judgment (for some) is deeply emotional where the other seems pretty
straight forward rational.
@Tyler DSimilar audit studies have shown that employers'
perceptions tend to be racist and sexist as well. The article even alludes to
this (albeit without further discussion as to why these results should be
treated differently). And yet most people wouldn't chalk that up to
inferiority of these groups.
I've looked at for profit schools, and was quite amazed. They didn't
seem to make you take mathematics, writing, history, biology, physics, and many
other classes. It appears to me that a person who attends a traditional school
is so much more rounded intellectually. So if you, as an employer, have a choice
between a school which just teaches basics for a particular area or one that
gives you a much more rigorous graduation requirement, they probably will go for
the better educated (all-around) person to hire.
I don't doubt that some great people and late bloomers go to for-profits
for the flexibility, and much of the education given there is better than
you'd get at universities (who hasn't had a nutty professor who lives
for research and is terrible at teaching?). The bottom line is that most of the
top performers NEVER attend a for-profit school, so employers don't want to
risk hiring from there.It mainly comes down to selection. If you get
an MBA from BYU or Utah, I know the school screened you and that you are a
pretty high achiever, just to GET IN to the program shows that. Then the
reputation of the school's alumni is good enough that I trust the education
was decent. With for-profits, there is no screening and employers have little
faith that competent people go there. The best folks apply to and get into a
“real” college. Perception wins the day.
@TopDaddy and others: Check into Western Governor's University. It is a
PUBLIC online college with an excellent reputation and costs way, way less than
your for-profit schools. Also, the credits from WGU will transfer to many, many
public colleges, unlike those at the for-profit schools.
@Rule of Law – “However the conclusions drawn seem a bit premature
to me.”I disagree.If employer’s perceptions
did not match reality (i.e., for-profit schools were actually as good or better)
then a few employers could act on that widespread misperception and (all other
things being equal) gain a competitive advantage over employers acting under the
misperception.The fact that employers think these schools are
inferior really does tells us everything we need to know.
Interesting article, but I think it leaves more questions than it answers. For
instance:Why is the graduation rate lower? At-risk students?
Higher percentage of part-time students? (It's harder for a part-time
student to graduate within 6 years at any university, for-profit or otherwise.)
Switching majors? Students stopping classes for a while, then starting again in
a year or two? Maybe the goal of some students is different than "get a
degree"?Why did employers in the audit study show less interest
in the for-profit degrees? Is the perception of lower quality really fair? The
author explains that audit studies are often used to look at discrimination, but
why do those studies result in calls for eliminating the discrimination and this
one is used to say "no, the degrees really are lower-quality and we need to
reduce funding going to these schools"?I'm not saying there
aren't improvements that should be made in the for-profit education
business, on the contrary I think it's pretty well established that there
are. However the conclusions drawn seem a bit premature to me.
I tried, rather unsuccessfully, to complete my Bachelor degree at a puclic
university. One of the biggest challenges I faced was the availability of
classes that fit my work and family schedules. This became especially important,
and ever more difficult, after I became a father and as my children grew.
Finally, I started to lose credits at the public university and realized that
the only way I would ever graduate was to attend a for-profit university. Now, I
can't afford to go to a public school with the demands of home and family,
it's just not feasible.
I know a young man who amassed $100,000 in debt for a two-year degree from
Bryant and Stratton (California). What a tragedy! He could have had the the same
(or probably much better) degree from one of California's many fine
community colleges for 5 or 10 thousand.
Anyone who claims that private business always does things better than the
government should read this. There are no for profit colleges that rank with the
better public universities.