Dear Mr. Goodman:
Your article In Hard Times, Lured Into Trade School and Debt raises awareness about a recession-era surge in college enrollments and that education consumers should exercise due diligence in their decisions. However all college enrollments are at an all-time high — not just for-profit colleges and trade schools. Isn't the non-profit sector also a beneficiary of the recession?
One-sided reporting doesn't just hurt the career college industry. It hurts our students, people who have made an investment in the reputation of our school, both in terms of tuition and in terms of the higher education experience they will carry throughout their lives.
Unlike many traditional colleges who are able to pick and choose between thousands of academically competitive applicants, career colleges often serve a population of students who are unsure about the value of education, unsure about their ability to benefit from higher education, have more difficulty in being able to fund education, but who are in most need of the benefits that upgraded skills and education can provide.
While it is true that an unscrupulous admissions representative could exaggerate the value of a degree programs, shouldn’t liberal arts colleges provide career direction to graduates and report job placement rates? Aren’t their graduates working in low-paying jobs under the weight of heavy debt because they were not prepared for the job market? The proactive career services benefits of career colleges for exceeds any career support provided by traditional colleges. Traditional colleges do not report placement rates to the federal government and, even though the linkage is obvious and plays out daily in the real world, may frown on connecting the idea of higher education with career preparation.
Shouldn’t we consider the substantial taxpayer expense of any institution, regardless of its tax status? Many reasons explain why borrowers default on student loans. One of the biggest determinants is graduation rate (program completion).
The Chronicle of Higher Education (January 2010) documents that career college’s graduation rates are consistently higher than community college graduation rates. “Currently, only 57 percent of full-time students at community colleges return the next year, compared to 72 percent of full-time students at career colleges and 68 percent of students at private not-for-profit two-year schools. Part-time students, the group typically seen as most at risk of dropping out, also fared better in retention at career colleges, with 60 percent returning the next year, compared to 42 percent at public two-year schools and 56 percent at private institutions.) http://chronicle.com/article/Study-Points-to-Academic/63760/
Every graduate of an accredited career college should feel like he or she has the skills to qualify for an entry level job in the vocational field to which their educational program pertains. By the same token, every student is different and the employment prospects of every student are different. That’s why no institution can guarantee a specific job. These facts are not based on our tax status.
Career education is often a word of mouth business and reputation is extremely important. Career colleges do cost more than community colleges and there are several good reasons for this. Most career college students find the difference worth paying for.
Vice President, Operations
Eagle Gate College Group