As United States moves en route to knowledge based nation, access to higher learning has become significantly crucial. However, this process has been limited by unequal access to education from ethnic, and income based backgrounds. In addition, community based colleges have shifted their objective away from student preparation to BA institutions to propriety or vocational training (Harding, 2012).
The literature behind for profit colleges can be traced from 1976 by John Sperling, a teacher at San Jose State University. This was as a result of frustrations, and challenges that John experienced from having students with full time jobs (Breneman, Pusser and Turner, 2006). The alternative was to split their lessons so that they fitted to every student’s availability, and efficiency. Since then, the growth of private learning institutions, which include part time classes, online classes, video linked classes, and online tests, among many others has been on a rising trend, in the country.
Proponents of these colleges argue that the institutional imperatives of non-profit colleges increase enrollments, and offer chances of retaining students. They argue that despite their high rates they have a higher retention rate as compared to community and traditional colleges. In addition, they argue that for profit colleges are convenient, and offer flexible schedules that fit demands of large learner’s population. They propose that these colleges offer courses needed in the current labor market, and this effectively suits learners from disadvantaged backgrounds in their attempt to have immediate pay offs (Breneman, Pusser and Turner, 2006).
Their effectiveness is, however, criticized on their low quality, few classrooms, and few instructors, far locations that are inaccessible and targeting students from advantaged backgrounds. Unlike community colleges for profit colleges are managed and financed by corporations, entrepreneurs, and private organizations. As per in the last two decades research indicates that for profit colleges have increased by an estimate of 225%. These institutions enroll about 12% of post secondary students, which are about 2.4 million as from 2010-2011 data (Harding, 2012).
The rapid growth of for profit colleges has raised concerns at both individual, corporate, state and federal level. Their quality of education has become questionable in relation to the huge amounts of money they collect as tuition and maintenance fees, the mounts of loans they receive, tactics used in attracting students, and the success of the graduates in the job markets. For-profit colleges have been seen leaving students with large amounts of debts, questionable credentials, greater possibilities of school drop outs, and few employable knowledge and skills.
Central to the debate of whether for profit colleges improve student’s outcomes or are aimed at scooping huge amounts of government’s grants, is the examination of whether attending such institutions associates with probabilities of receiving credible degrees, likelihood of employment, and higher earnings. This paper will examine the characteristics of students attending for profit colleges as compared to those in community colleges, and compare student’s success in both colleges. The objective is to assess the effects of for profit colleges on students, and compare their educational and employment market outcomes (Harding, 2012).
One of the key challenges for collecting such data, and coming up with an appropriate research methodology is lack of sufficient leveled data on students who attend for-profit colleges (Habley, Bloom and Robbins, 2012). This is because some are online students while others enroll part time classes. Datasets such as those gathered from National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) either do not follow students or are small numbers of for-profit learners.
The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, 1997 Cohorts (NLSY97) may seem unsuitable for providing such data, but its provisions are better compared to those of NCES. The data from NLSY97 is inclusive of sample of Latino and black youths, which allows an identification of when each student attended college. Preliminary research indicates that NLSY97 has over 300 individuals far more than provisions from NCES who attended for-profit colleges. The data is also extensive on individual and family backgrounds of learners, and their results, i.e. degrees earned, employment statuses, and their levels of earnings (Habley, Bloom and Robbins, 2012).
Another limitation in this survey is on estimation of causal effect relationship with the use on non-experimental data. However, using observational method, inverse probability testing, sensitivity analysis, propensity score matching, and instrumental variables, the weakness would be covered. Geographical variations in locations would act as an exogenous variation source of the effects that the for-profit institutions have on students (Habley, Bloom and Robbins, 2012).
The indications reveal that for profit colleges do not fulfill their promises on students. The colleges provide dubious coursework, courses and degrees that do not guarantee proper jobs. Most students in the provided data did not complete their courses; an example is from students from University of Phoenix, which had less than 9% of enrolled students graduating within a period of six years. The colleges mislead scholars about loan costs, exaggerate their salaries, and target on disabled veterans and homeless students. This is in compromise to the quality of education accorded to students. The qualities of skills achieved are deemed worse where the students are not eligible in the job markets and end up with huge amount of loan.
The aim of for-profit colleges contradicts the aim of higher learning (Harding, 2012). The colleges aim at scooping huge amounts of funding and grants from the federal government, which is not put into its capacity. They spend at least 23 % of their funds for marketing and recruitment procedures thus prizing recruitments over student’s retention. They hike tuition fees to satisfy their institutional goals rather than cover the costs of educating students. This in turn leads to many students dropping out due to lack of fees or increased amounts of debts without attaining the degrees they enroll. They take advantages of high dropout rates by suing their fees for personal uses, and do not care to follow on students who drop out.
For lack of better alternatives, most students are forced to enroll in for-profit colleges. Most of these students enroll in such facilities due to lack of employment, stuck in jobs that barely provide for their bills, or looking for pay offs. The focus of these students is shifted from learning from the time they make the enrollment decision to the time they complete their courses. This explains why most of them do not concentrate or even drop out when they find out that it is not working for them. The results are misuse of tax payer’s money, increased illegal recruiters, and decreased quality of education (Harding, 2012).
The Department of Education has recently approved a new set of rules guarding against federal aids to for profit colleges with less than 35% students paying down their debts. With these regulations, the country hopes to see increase in quality of education from these colleges so that students achieve degrees that are job competitive, and hence pay back their debts.
Top of Form
Breneman, D. W., Pusser, B., & Turner, S. E. (2006). Earnings from learning: The rise of for- profit universities. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Bottom of Form
Top of Form
Habley, W. R., Bloom, J. L., & Robbins, S. B. (2012). Increasing persistence: Research-based strategies for college student success. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Bottom of Form
Harding, D. J. (2012). For-Profit Colleges, Educational Attainment, and Labor Market Outcomes. Work cited,