CollegeQandA asks: What’s the problem with For-Profit Colleges, and why shouldn’t I go to one?

What’s the problem with For-Profit Colleges?

Theoretically – nothing.  Realistically – profit above all else.  Not-for-profit institutions are  faced with ethical issues such as: should I recruit student X into my program even though it might not be good for student X, but we need our enrollment numbers to justify or maintain our budget?  Again, that’s a question for people who are just trying to maintain a not-for-profit organization.  Now imagine the motivation of the institution is to make money and provide growth and profit for investors – the for-profit problem. That’s just one of the dilemmas that emerges in the complex life of a higher ed institution.

Big Nickel

Why shouldn’t I go to one?

Because in the hierarchy of institutions that are concerned about your future, for-profits tend to be the worst at preparing you for your desired future.  That’s not to say that just because an institution is not-for-profit that they will keep your best interests as their main goal, but typically, a not-for-profit institution is better focused on your development.

Where then?

So, where should I go?  First off, you need to consider the economics of going to college.  If things are looking financially difficult, then I suggest you start looking at community colleges as a starting point.  They should have lower costs and shorter time spans to graduation.  Also, many community colleges have agreements with larger universities that allow you to spend 2 years and then move for 2 more years in an undergraduate degree.   Also, community colleges have programs that are, typically, focused on practical work in the community so there are more direct paths to a job at the end.  These are great places to start your higher education with less financial risk.

As you may be hearing, there is an ever increasing demand for technical and trade based careers.  For some reason, our societies seem to have put this type of work into a lesser career path, and many people seem to believe that they need to go to college to prove their worth.  All my degrees make me no better (and probably worse) than those people who can actually fix and build many of the things I use in daily life and our overall infrastructure.  Because of the skew in our societies, where not enough people are joining the trades and technical careers, there is great opportunity for many of you along this path.

Why the discussion?

The ideas in this post are discussed in my book, but John Grisham’s latest book (Amazon) is in relation to for-profit institutions, which revived my interest in spreading what I think is an important warning – just beware of promises.

Credits: Photo titled: Big Nickel, by Bruce Guenter

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