Today, The Center for College Affordability and Productivity released a study on for-profit higher education. The study found that industry leaders aim to create value for their students by “employing cost-effective strategies to meet market demand.” Supported by Lumina Foundation, the report also found:
‘The single characteristic that most sets for-profit institutions of higher learning apart from the traditional sectors of higher education is the profit motive,’ and economic theory suggests that for-profit schools ‘can only make a profit by providing educational services that are in high demand…[and by providing] something of value for the customer.’
I found this study interesting in its conclusion that the for-profit industry provides a valuable service to students. At a time when many critics are calling for major reforms of the industry, this study found that private sector schools were doing their best to give students the best possible educational experience.
Typically only the most egregious circumstances make the headlines. Today thankfully is different.
The Cinncinati Enquirer posted a success story. It was a story of a graduate from a private sector college in Ohio. Quincey Montgomery, a single father and full time worker, who chose to go back to school to earn his Associate Degree in Business Management at Brown Mackie College. He chose this school because of the flexibility and the ability to focus on one class at a time.
“Montgomery, however, feels as if he owes his job to Brown Mackie. He already was enrolled when he earned a co-op assignment at Procter & Gamble Co.’s downtown headquarters. Now he’s working there full-time as an administrative assistant in the product supply unit.
‘I feel like it was 70 percent me and 30 percent Brown Mackie,’ he said. ‘But I think that 30 percent goes a long way.’
He said he took ‘all the classes I would take anywhere else,’ such as accounting and business law, and never had more than 20 people in any of his classes.
He paid for the program, about $25,000 total, with student loans. He pays about $200 a month and regards it as money well spent.”
While negative stories about private sector colleges have driven the vast majority of the headlines recently, it is refreshing to see a story that represents amore objective view of this aspect of our higher education industry. I have maintained that the private sector plays a critical role in our national educational goals. Sure, there are bad actors out there and stories that go along with them, but there are also success stories. There has to be a reason so many have chosen a private sector education. True negative headlines sell more papers, but the expansive growth of for profit colleges exemplifies what is happening to higher education. Individuals are “voting” with their feet and choosing to enroll at these educational institutions because they present the best opportunity for them – often with more flexibility and accessibility than traditional colleges and universities. I expect there will be more of these stories in the future.