Investors in for-profit higher education have not been happy lately. Some proprietary schools have closed and many are experiencing rapid declines in enrollment.
Critics charge that these institutions are effective in recruiting students and signing them up for grants and loans, but not so good at training them for jobs that pay well. Also, students tend to drop out, often with massive debt.
This is certainly not true of all such institutions. But a couple of recent stories underscore the problem.
First, reports indicate that Arizona has the lowest graduation rates in the country. Here is an article in an online version of the Arizona Republic, by Aubrey Rumore of the Cronkite News Service. The huge online presence in that state may be the principal reason. The piece discusses the poor statistics of Grand Canyon University, when compared to public institutions there. (The University of Phoenix is also headquartered in Arizona, but has campuses worldwide, including in Texas.)
Speaking of the University of Phoenix, here is a new story about a federal investigation alleging deceptive practices, as posted by CNN Money. From the piece:
The probe comes as the federal government is cracking down on for-profit colleges, which have long been criticized for leaving students with loads of debt and few real job prospects. Regulators claim that some schools prey on low-income students and veterans, encouraging them to take out expensive loans, and then use abusive tactics to collect repayment. New federal rules were implemented on July 1 to hold these schools responsible for students' return on investment of their degree programs.
Those of us affiliated with community colleges readily acknowledge that our graduation rates are criticized too. However, our tuition is the lowest available, and local two-year schools often train students in the same fields as for-profits.
Prospective students find out quickly on TV or online that Oprah's hair stylist is rich. Certainly the cosmetology profession is a excellent choice, helping propel many individuals into the middle class. However, advertisements of for-profits should reflect what's happening at the nearest strip center, rather than with Oprah's entourage.
Metrics such as the median (especially) and mean were invented for this purpose.