I just finished listening to a story on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross. Investigative journalist Daniel Golden wrote a story for Bloomberg News titled “For-Profit Colleges: Targeting people who can’t pay”.
Really? Is that what he thinks happens at For-Profit Colleges?
Having worked with for profit, non profit and community colleges for more than 25 years, I just don’t agree with the assessment Daniel Golden provides. For-Profit Schools offer a unique opportunity to help so many people who have been disillusioned by their previous educational experiences.
And as to the notion that they are recruiting people they know are destined to fail? That seems absurd to me. Anyone who works with a For-Profit School knows that the key to default management is getting a person properly trained and put to work. If you are unable to do that, then don’t enroll the student.
Are there problems in the Industry? Yes. There are bad operators in any Industry – and as with Mortgages, Banking, CDO’s and Insurance – you only need to mix in Wall Street to acerbate the problem. Personally, it seems that mixing Wall Street with anything can create a pretty dangerous cocktail.
That being said, there are literally thousands of For-Profit, privately held Schools who focus everyday on helping people better their lives. As the cost of traditional college continues to rise, the For-Profit Industry offers so many people the most flexible and focused alternative there is.
Daniel Golden said that there was an “incentive for Schools to recruit those who were most likely to fail, and to encourage them to take out the largest amount of loans possible”. Come on! I don’t know how he put his article together – but he never visited any of the Schools we work with. Career Colleges are no different from traditional colleges in terms of default and loan repayment. In fact, they are probably more attuned to the issue then CC’s or traditional Colleges. Maybe if the for profit colleges should be allowed to advise their prospective students not to take out so many loans. Right now, they cannot.
A good friend of mine told me many years ago that when the For-Profit college industry reached a certain size – it would become a target. If Bruce is reading this – buddy, you were right.
I’ve spent the last three months interviewing over 100 graduates of For-Profit Schools from a variety of Institutions and Career Fields. And time after time, I heard the same thing, “This School changed my life”.
So, is this a wake-up call for our Industry? I hope so…we could use improvements in some areas. Right now, the primary issues relating to education are at the elementary, Jr. High and High School levels. The For-Profit College industry is willing to help pick up the pieces, impact people’s lives, and give them skill training that can better their lives.
Yes, it can be profitable. I thought that was the point of for-profit business? As my Dad would say, “There is no good business that does not make a profit”. But more than that, the For-Profit Education Industry it is an overwhelmingly rewarding career field that allows us to help people everyday.