A Personal Interest Project: For-Profit Schools – Back to the Blueprints With Traditional College Education

In today’s competitive job market, more people than ever are going to school in order to get a leg up in their field. Not only are a higher percentage of secondary graduates going on to further their educations, but more seasoned professionals are going back to school, too. If the United States is a petri dish, then this environment has been perfect for the culturing of a relatively recent phenomenon: the for-profit school system. For-profit schools turn the traditional educational system on its head and completely rework it from the business model.


Blueprints of the University of Manitoba (Used from Wyman Laliberte via Flickr )

There are several types of for-profit schools, but I’m focusing this project specifically on colleges. A for-profit college is one which has met the qualifications for the specific governmental label.  Here are those qualifications and the results of those qualifications.

A for-profit college…

– cannot own physical buildings. The facilities must be rented, or else the school system must be maintained online. Most of these schools offer a combination of rented facilities and online classes.

– gets special governmental grants. Because it’s technically a business, the school system is eligible for governmental discounts and funding. These funds mean that students can enroll at reduced rates.

– is a subject of heated controversy from the standpoint of, well… just about everyone.

Traditionally enrolled college students (like myself) tend to frown upon these establishments as schools for slackers and busy old people. We tend to see those students as slackers based on the lower course difficulty and high college dropout rate, and we tend to see them as old people because the average age for a for-profit college attendee is higher than that of a traditional state college student.

Professors are criticizing these colleges as a depreciation of education. The courses are not as rigorous or academically involved as those at most traditional colleges. Furthermore, most of the for-profit professors are only part-time college workers. The question remains whether part-time professors are fully dedicated to their professions as educators.

The business investors are also having their say. What could these schools be doing to bring in more profit? The general answer seems to be: try to cater to more students. Scams and large layoffs within these colleges have been discouraging for investors, to say the least. Nevertheless, most investors acknowledge that the market for these schools is still growing.

Professional businesses are, by and large, disappointed by the influx of for-profit school graduates. Most managers still want employees with degrees from traditional colleges. Perhaps the opinion of employers will change with time. Perhaps these schools will dwindle as employers continue to reject potential candidates with degrees from these colleges. Or, perhaps these new schools will step up their game and start competing academically with the traditional model colleges.

The U.S. population as a whole…what do we think of these colleges? What are the reasons for our opinions, and what are the implications of those opinions? Is our opinion changing? Is it likely to change? These are all topics I wish to investigate as I begin this project. The for-profit schools are still evolving, and so is their role in the world evolving.


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