For Profit Schools

Last night we watched the John Oliver show and it really is a great news/satire show and the feature was ‘For Profit Schools’.  He makes very valid points  about some predatory practices and blatant lies some for profit schools advertise about job opportunity etc but with all ‘news’ I owe it to myself to dig a little deeper.  As an ode to my college History chair; “If your mother says she loves you, check it out”.  My bone with the piece was how hard they slammed the lobby group APSCU, a Private college lobby group, one thing they were fighting was the stats about job placement post graduation.  There isn’t time in a 7min TV piece to define ‘all the things’ and most of the time sensationalism is based people not knowing all the facts etc so I watched the piece wondering if I went to a school represented by APSCU because it was certainly Private….  If yes, then, I had a measure of pity for APSCU in fighting for less regulation because if you looked at my college; Cabrini College in Collegeville PA, and my degrees; Political Science and History and then you say “did you get a job in your field” and I have to answer a yes no question that is REALLY HARD to answer because what express job does a political science degree get you?  Nope, not a politician or even a lawyer BUT YES my degree DID get me a GOOD job right out of school.  Yes, luck and connections and willingness to go for a job I had no idea even existed before I read the description had a large part to my success, but, I had to have a BA and I had a BA so that BA got me in the interview seat.  Another day I will have to talk about how valuable a political science degree is because I really really think it is, but not today, back to APSCU.

My holdout thought about APSCU was that they were representing all not not-for-profit schools and not just the ‘alternative’ style programs like National American University (online style, not the one in DC) or University of Phoenix.  Those schools scream diploma mill but they don’t even usually give you a BA, they give you a ‘certificate’ but not much muscle behind it – they formed the core of the John oliver piece and I’m behind him 100% on his points on them.  Personally if I was hiring I would only maybe give someone with that on their resume a chance to interview…  That is a personal bias obviously but I do believe strongly in traditional schools.  Back to the point, I worried that this lobby group was also lobbying to protect schools like mine and Lars’s that you earn an honest degree but if you go into a related job is a hard question to answer.

To the google answer machine I go….

First, the vast majority of colleges out there are PRIVATE  however still not for profit, and there are also a good number of public not for profit.  To be Not for profit there are rules about where money earned is spent.  Simply put, for profit ‘profits’ go to shareholders, not for profit ‘profits’ go into the school again.  There actually are not all that many for profit schools, they just really make a ton of TV commercials.

There ARE even a few NOT for profit online schools – here is a list

APSCU represents pretty much only For Profit schools although they are pretty sly about outright saying it and mostly use the word PRIVATE a ton, but I looked on their list of members, and they seem to all be for-profit.  I can’t tell for sure because other than mining each individual site they don’t tend to turn up on the college database services I like like “college decision headquarters” CAPPEX and they do seem to be on the list of For Profit schools on Wikipedia.


Conclusions… No more pity for APSCU, they lost my shadow of a doubt by having a misleading website and representing the for profit education crowd.

Side note… Just because something is for profit does not mean they are bad, I love capitalism, but from most of what I have seen the for profit education system cares more for money then quality for students.  HOWEVER if you find a way out of a bad place using one of these schools I am extremely happy for you and congratulations and wow you worked hard and I hope you got your moneys worth!

Another major component of Mr Olivers report was the debt of school.  Yes, that is a big deal….  it is another topic for another day and I’m just counting myself lucky that Lars and I both paid off our college debt years ago and we both graduated in 2000.  For me I was done in about 6 years and for him 8 but we were totally done before Niamh was born.  I could go on, I think education is very worth it but it is not worth any price…  Here are the schools we went to

Screen Captures7

and for the record we both made, respectively, more the first year out of school in 2000 than one year of 2014 tuition.

I need to go parent now but it was fun to think about something other than parenting for half an hour!  Thanks for listening 🙂


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