You may have seen, as I did, an article entitled, “For-profit colleges leave many students in debt” from the Philadelphia Inquirer yesterday. In light of the need for increased access to higher education, many of us would like to see a balanced analysis of the capacity to improve access to and success from higher education graduates – of proprietary schools and traditional ones.
The story characterizes private sector career colleges, specifically the Art Institute of Philadelphia, as schools that “prey on low-performing students and load them with untenable debt.”
The story uses an anecdote of one student who took on way too much debt and admittedly says she “accepts partial blame for her predicament.” In a balanced view of the story of private sector schools, this anecdote could have been coupled with many others from students who have graduated from proprietary schools with degrees that advanced their careers, teachers who helped prepare them with real-world education and training, and employers who rely on private sector graduates for skills and knowledge acquired in their education.
We need graduates – from traditional colleges and career colleges – who have the capacity to contribute to our society and support themselves. Based on years of experience, I have seen students graduate from career college programs with the capacity to find employment and pay off their loans. I have also seen graduates from traditional colleges who lack the skills and knowledge expected by employers and who lack the capacity or will to pay off their loans. No one wants to see students take on more loans than they can repay. What we should expect from serious, comprehensive analysis of higher education is fair, unbiased reporting on proprietary schools and traditional ones.