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What Makes For-Profit Colleges Different?
Accuracy in Academia ^ | June 10, 2014 | Ethan Gaitz

Posted on 06/11/2014 7:43:29 AM PDT by Academiadotorg

Convention has mandated that once a student completes his/her high school studies, one must enroll at a four-year college or university; to begin study at an ivory-tower institution of higher learning marks for many Americans the culmination of a long educational career. To some, such as Michael Roth (current President of Wesleyan University) a liberal arts college experience provides the best assurance that the person who enters Wesleyan (or a similar liberal arts atmosphere) will leave with a completely different modality of perception and belief construction. To Roth, who has espoused the merits of a liberal education for years, the study of a host of disciplines and subjects ensures that students will enter the professional world with an unparalleled analytical acumen. In turn, these young people will be able to confront problems with an “integrative” approach that enables them to fully engage their new cognitive skills in a practical context.

Interestingly, Roth notes that Thomas Jefferson’s initial motivation for establishing his beloved University of Virginia was to challenge the vocational orthodoxy that dominated schools such as Harvard that had “predetermined itineraries.” Roth goes on to write that as “a man of the Enlightenment, [Jefferson] had faith that the diverse forms of learning would improve public and private life.”

Such sentiment may resonate with intellectuals such as Roth, but in an increasingly-competitive labor market, people have begun to question the utility of a holistic (and costly) college education. And although Wesleyan’s enrollment predictions for the foreseeable future may not be bleak, the overall practical applications (or apparent lack thereof) of a liberal arts education has prompted Roth to delve into this topic on an even larger scale in his book, Beyond the University: Why Liberal Education Matters.

As the economy worsens and job prospects continue to remain dim for future college graduates, students are increasingly abandoning the liberal arts in favor of more vocational and ostensibly “practical” forms of education. Convinced that employers are only interested in those who have the readily available skills to maximize their earning potential upon graduation (and thus the revenues for the company), it appears that perhaps the humanities may indeed be in trouble of losing followers. Rather than engage their studies and course selection in an intellectually passionate way, students are forced to view their education as a commodity designed to limit personal costs while maximizing future earning potential, leaving little room for the classics and other stimulating areas of inquiry.

This mentality has spurred the growth of for-profit institutions, many of which offer online classes that help students economize on their education in a way a traditional campus setting cannot.

It is important to note that as outstanding student loan debt rests at approximately $1.11 trillion , enrollment at profit-motivated institutions has increased. “Today, these institutions enroll about 12 percent of all postsecondary students.” This figure which may appear small, is demonstrative of a growing trend within higher education when one considers that in 1980, only 1% of American students were enrolled at a for-profit college. Such a large increase has sparked much public debate and was even the subject of a recent discussion at the Center for American Progress, a think tank in Washington, D.C.

Noteworthy educational experts convened to discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of for-profit colleges, with opponents and advocates present. Robert Shireman remarked that there exists a “fundamental difference” between non-profit and for-profit educational institutions. There is a notable distinction with respect to tax treatment, but perhaps the most noteworthy difference is the overall quality of the collegiate experience.

To Shireman, since for-profit schools are purely profit driven, they spend less on instruction as a means to maximize corporate expansion and growth. But to Wallace Boston, President and CEO of American Public University (APU), one advantage of for-profit institutions is that rather than worry about funding cafeterias, sports teams, and dorms, schools such as APU are “allowed to operate as a university first.” The benefit of not operating the aforementioned amenities allows many for-profit schools to direct their resources toward improving quality of instruction and overall academic prestige.

From Shireman’s perspective, profit motivated schools can’t possibly reach the same level of quality since they are beholden to the volition of shareholders, who by all accounts seem only intent on increasing revenues, creating certain “investor pressures that often compromise student and public needs in pursuit of growth and profit.” A firm believer that non-profits operate best, Shireman is convinced in the efficacy of the nondistribution constraint, essentially that since the people on the board of a non-profit have no personal financial incentive to seek accelerated growth and market potential, they can focus on making qualitative improvements.

This may be true, but it was met with resistance from Boston who noted that “non-profit boards can be influenced just as easily as for-profit boards.” State universities are inextricably linked to the governor’s office in that particular state, so the membership of any state university board is directly correlated to the particular person serving as governor. As the political winds change, so too does the operation of the university leaving it susceptible to capricious decision-making and inconsistency.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: colleges; forprofit; universities

1 posted on 06/11/2014 7:43:29 AM PDT by Academiadotorg
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To: Academiadotorg

He is kidding himself; virtually all colleges are of profit, some just hide it better than others.

2 posted on 06/11/2014 7:54:05 AM PDT by Michael.SF. (I never thought anyone could make Jimmy Carter look good in comparisons)
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To: Academiadotorg

For-profit colleges sell dreams to gullible people. Only 3% of people who enroll in online schools will graduate.
For a large segment of people, going to school is really avoiding work. If you go to the Dave Ramsey forum, probably 50% of the people in financial hardship are enrolled in classes. Many of them are in online school. They are going into debt to get out of debt. It’s foolish. Unless you go into nursing, your income is not going to skyrocket because you got a degree.
The reason why people have high student loan debt is because THEY SIGNED UP FOR IT VOLUNTARILY. It’s the same reason they have car debt and credit card debt. It’s their fault.

3 posted on 06/11/2014 8:00:45 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: Michael.SF.
You've got that right! State Universities pay salaries to some of their top administration which would make Boards of Directors at many of our top corporations blush.

And don't get me started on the size of the endowments of private universities like Harvard.

When I was working and going to night school for my MBA, there was only one college within a 100 mile radius which was offering such night courses. Now it seems like everybody is offering night and weekend programs. The growth of overtly for-profit colleges is what forced their publically-funded counterparts to respond in like manner.

4 posted on 06/11/2014 8:04:55 AM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Academiadotorg

Two main reasons that “for profit” colleges are disliked by the educational establishment:

(1) They offer classes in practical skills, more than in “gender studies”.

(2) Professors who use their class time to rant against the patriarchy or racism are much more likely to be fired.

5 posted on 06/11/2014 8:06:56 AM PDT by PapaBear3625 (You don't notice it's a police state until the police come for you.)
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To: Academiadotorg

A “liberal education” should be done well before a student graduates from high school.

6 posted on 06/11/2014 8:21:22 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (ObamaCare IS Medicaid: They'll pull a sheet over your head and send you the bill.)
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To: Academiadotorg
BTW, if you want to transform education, this is one way to do it.
7 posted on 06/11/2014 8:26:24 AM PDT by Carry_Okie (ObamaCare IS Medicaid: They'll pull a sheet over your head and send you the bill.)
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To: AppyPappy

There are a lot of state schools who do the same thing. My little daughter is in the NICU at the University of Iowa. I got to talking to some of the blood techs. Most of them were UofI grads in other fields who couldn’t find a job.

Heck, we have interns with engineering degrees now.

A college education is not worth it for a lot of fields, even the STEM fields.

8 posted on 06/11/2014 9:19:28 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Academiadotorg

Non-profit colleges, on account of their tax status aren’t corrupted by money and self interest like everyone else. We know this because they assure us it is so.

9 posted on 06/11/2014 9:34:10 AM PDT by Ford4000
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To: Academiadotorg
C'mon guys. If, IF these were shoe stores or grocery stores, you all would be complimenting them for their making money in hard times.

I graduated from a four-year liberal arts school. My classmates had to work to make their educations pay off. (One of my classmates is a world-class coloratura soprano whose career was in Europe. Her videos on YouTube show her various encore performances.)

As for the argument that students are going into debt to get out of debt is a senseless one. It isn't the fault of the schools that a student makes the decision. After retiring, I worked for awhile for a profit-making university. The students who came to us were mostly remedial and/or desperate. Many of them had urinated away their undergraduate years quaffing vodka or tequila and suddenly found that Daddy wasn't going to put up with that anymore. Students went from classrooms to asking the most famous post-dropout question, "Would you like fries with that?"

When I went to school, my university was famous for it's traditional liberal arts education--classes during the day with the occasional night class to accommodate professors' schedules, not necessarily the students'. And, every semester, a woman in the business office would seem me coming down the financial settlement line. She would have the promissory note ready for me to sign because she knew that I didn't a dime to pay for that semester, despite the fact that the school's policy was that you had to pay 50 per cent of one's total billing before signing a note.

That school, because it has gone online and and began offering education across the board, has increased enrollment by hundreds of percents, has improved the campus facilities--yes, it actually has a campus--and built a brand new sports center. The basketball team is coached by a former NBA player often named as the best sixth-man, and a former owner of NBS and MLB teams, is an adjunct professor in the sports management degree program. And our school has recently gone from a NAIA sports program to a Divison Io a Division One program.

And, it doesn't hold a pistol to ANYONE'S head and force them to apply for and receive financial aids including loans, grants, and scholarships. The student makes the decision to do that.

I think my alma mater is a successful, character-growing academic institution on par with many Ivy League schools. It will never have the endowment or Harvard or Yale, but by gosh, I think we beat the glutei maximi off their basketball teams.
10 posted on 06/11/2014 10:06:31 AM PDT by righttackle44 (Take scalps. Leave the bodies as a warning.)
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To: Academiadotorg

“different modality of perception and belief construction”

Good grief. This BS doesn’t stand for Bachelor of Science.

11 posted on 06/11/2014 10:20:52 AM PDT by Chewbarkah
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To: redgolum

Without experience, it’s a hard road. That’s why we push internships and Student Wage jobs at Tech.

12 posted on 06/11/2014 11:44:05 AM PDT by AppyPappy
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To: AppyPappy

These kids have had internships. Most of them at very well known firms in biotech.

They were from Iowa State, a good engineering school. When I went there, they had 100% placement. Now it is around 25% placement in engineering.

13 posted on 06/11/2014 11:49:05 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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