Sorting good from bad among for-profit colleges

Career College Central Summary:

  • If you hope for a more equitable society, one with broader opportunities, then there’s hardly a more important topic than job training.
  • So it’s especially distressing that so many disadvantaged young people — people who believe they’re doing the smart thing by enrolling in for-profit colleges to train for careers in medical technology, criminal justice and other fields — are ending up disillusioned, in debt and without the careers they’d counted on.
  • Evidence increasingly suggests that some segments of the for-profit college industry are taking students — and taxpayers — for a ride.
  • Drawing up to 90 percent of their revenue from various government programs intended to help low-income students pay tuition, some of these schools deliver questionable degrees, suffer extraordinarily high dropout rates and loan-default rates, and charge tuitions that are far higher than those at public community colleges.
  • After a decade of rapid growth, many for-profit schools are now in trouble. A shakeout is clearly underway as government, private investors and customers begin to sort the good actors from the bad.
  • Corinthian Colleges and ITT Educational Services, with 130,000 students between them, have been notable targets of government investigators. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has sued both companies, charging predatory lending and other shoddy practices.
  • The U.S. Department of Education has, in effect, shut down Corinthian, forcing the closure of 12 campuses and the sale of 85 others.
  • Still, it’s too easy to dismiss altogether the for-profit sector’s contributions.
  • Despite obvious flaws, the career training offered by Globe, Minnesota School of Business and others across the nation have helped millions of challenged students. It’s hard for many middle-class Americans to grasp the obstacles that these students face.
  • Many are single mothers who, in their late 20s or mid-30s, realize for the first time that they’re leading dead-end lives.
  • Going back to school while trying to hold down one or two jobs and raise three or four children is an immense challenge, especially for those who have already failed in community college or who lack confidence in their academic ability.
  • As one local college administrator asked an editorial writer: “Is it a surprise that so many of our students find their programs just too hard to finish?”

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STAR TRIBUNE

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