DIVERSE: Diverse Conversations: Gainful Employment for College Graduates

Career College Central Summary:

  • In October, the Obama administration released regulations that would hold career-based colleges of all types more accountable for the retention and future employment of their graduates. These “gainful employment” rules would particularly strike against for-profit schools with predatory practices that take the money of college students and provide little support for employment following graduation or certification. No particular schools will be singled out though, and all career colleges will be subject to the regulations. If accountability measures are not met, the colleges could lose out on federal aid.
  • It’s important to note that for-profit career colleges are often the first choice of low-income college students who depend on federal aid to pay for their schooling. In its explanation of the new regulations, the U.S. Department of Education pointed out that up to 90 percent of some for-profit career college revenues come from taxpayer money. Adding higher levels of accountability to these schools is not only a way to ensure a brighter future for its students, but to protect government investments.
  • Not surprisingly, these regulations have upset career colleges and the lobbying organization of for-profit colleges, The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities, which say that they are being unfairly targeted. I’d say that there is some truth to that—but not because I think they should not be held accountable for the future success of their paying students. On the contrary, I think these new regulations, which will take effect on July 1 if officially approved, don’t go far enough. There should be similar regulations in place for all institutions of higher learning in the U.S. to protect students who invest a hefty amount of their future incomes in their educations upfront. Why stop at higher accountability for career colleges?
  • Colleges should be accountable, too
  • When we talk about student accountability, it’s usually in the K-12 space. Teachers’ pay, clout and careers rise and fall based on the performance of their students—so much so that there has long been pushback against the high standards our K-12 educators face, particularly when so many circumstances outside the classroom influence student success. The end goals for all of this accountability are higher graduation and college enrollment rates.
  • As a former public school educator myself, I find the increasing accountability to be a great benefit to students. Graduation rates are increasing, and the achievement gap is shrinking (though both have plenty of room to improve). Despite grumblings from educators and even some parents when it comes to high standards for K-12 achievements, the students are benefiting.
  • But what happens once those students earn their high school diplomas and set off for college campuses (or start taking online courses)? What happens to the idea of accountability then?

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