For-Profit on the Job Application

Career College Central Summary:

  • The newly released working paper by five economists tracked callbacks by employers in response to 8,914 fictitious job applications.
  • The research found no statistically significant difference in how the two sectors stacked up.
  • An interpretation of those results, however, depends on who you ask.
  • Employers’ overall response rate — meaning a positive, non-perfunctory reply via phone or e-mail — was 11.6 percent for applications that listed community colleges compared to 11.3 percent for those that listed for-profits.
  • Likewise, the split for interview requests was tilted slightly in community colleges’ favor, at 5.3 percent versus 4.7 percent.
  • Those splits fell well within the study’s margin of error.
  • To the five researchers who conducted the study, the primary takeaway is that for-profits are a worse investment.
  • “Our results provide no indication that résumés that list for-profit college credentials generate more employer interest than those that list community college credentials,” they wrote. “If anything, the opposite may be true.”
  • “It is more expensive to attend for-profit colleges,” he said, and the findings show a better return on investment for community college credentials because they produce a comparable result at a lower price to the student.
  • However, at least one expert who reviewed the study had the opposite response to its results.
  • “I would’ve expected that there would be strong negative effects of attending for-profits,” said Stephen R. Porter, a professor of higher education at North Carolina State University. “I was astounded that there was no difference between the groups.”
  • Given that critics and the news media often describe the for-profit sector as being “greedy degree mills,” Porter said, the study suggests that in the eyes of employers, the colleges “aren’t doing as bad of a job as we thought.”

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