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Examining the For-Profit Sector Differently

by Kelly A. Cherwin, Communications Editor, HigherEdJobs

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Kelly A. Cherwin
Communications Editor, HigherEdJobs

Kelly A. Cherwin has worked for HigherEdJobs since 2008 and is currently the Communications Editor. After receiving her Master of Business Administration degree (MBA)...

According to the Institute for Higher Education Policy 1 (IHEP), a nonprofit organization that promotes college access and success in higher education for all students, the for-profit sector needs to be examined differently than its non-profit counterpart.

As noted in its report, A New Classification Scheme for For-Profit Institutions, 2 non-profit organizations differ in many ways from the traditional for-profit universities. These institutions are more likely to be non-degree granting, be more concentrated in a metropolitan area and their students generally are older, female and first generation college students.

In a recent press release, the IHEP stated, "To truly understand the sector and differentiate it among other institutions, a classification scheme that focuses on for-profits must include criteria that are different than those used in existing schemes that moves beyond institutional characteristics to look at contextual factors." 3

The classification framework project, which was funded by the support of USA Funds, examined the growth of for-profit universities, the ideal position of these organizations in the higher education market, and the demographics of the students enrolled at for-profits.

According to Wendell D. Hall, Ph.D., the deputy director of the IHEP, "The Institute for Higher Education Policy's new report, A New Classification Scheme for For-Profit Institutions, examines how for-profit institutions serve a niche and a need. This report challenges us to think beyond the basic comparison of for-profit institutions vs. non-profit institutions, and provides a more nuanced perspective when comparing for-profit institutions. We also explored where for-profit institutions are most concentrated to examine whether they're filling a need in a particular market. Examining the for-profit sector in this way accurately captures who these institutions serve, where they serve them, and how well they serve them."

Now that classifications are created, benefits include the ability to create peer groups of institutions and students in order to offer comparative analyses. The classification allows the potential to examine issues of educational quality, competition, and appropriate policymaking. And now, through the framework, the for-profit sector can be viewed in a different light - as a highly differentiated set of institutions rather than a large homogeneous sector.


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Reply Truth said...
I work for a for - profit and would advise no one to ever work for one. It's all about the $$$$ and numbers and they could care less about retention and students finding careers. Look at cost per credit once. Don't be sold.

09/11/2012 09:56 PM

Reply Renee lara said...
Anytime you add education with a profit it will never be about the education it will always be about the money(profit). I have watched students come out of these schools with a lot of debt and never find a job in the field they have trained in. The way they recruit students are shameful these admissions reps are given quotas so they can keep there job by enrolling as many students as they can or risk being fired. Shameful!!!

09/14/2012 11:47 PM

Reply Truth said...
Right on Renee......... Kelly does point out in the article the target group the For profits focuses in on. They are generally high risk students who don't have a chance and then are stuck with huge debts they can not pay back. I see this personally everyday at work and refuse to act without character. I can not say that about others. They micro manage and lead with fear. Since the gov changes it is the known fact that they just use scare tactics because they can't use monthly quotas. I wish I could find a career in a real eudcation environment where I can use my passion to help students find their career goals!

09/15/2012 08:28 AM

Reply Michael said...
For five years, I worked at a for profit school and for ten, I worked at a university. There's no difference. Both need profit and both will lie, steal and cheat to recruit students.

09/16/2012 07:48 PM

Reply Jack said...
I find it interesting that many people equate for-profit schools with lesser quality and obsession with profits. I suppose these people have never heard of grade inflation? I suppose these people have never heard of scandals with athletes constantly cheating and getting passed through courses that they never attend? I suppose these people have never heard of budget shortfalls and tuition hikes at public universities?

That's the thing, people have a choice when it comes to education. Fault them, not the institutions. If you do want to blame cost of education, blame private colleges (they are the 25 most expensive in the nation) and not "for-profit." What does it cost for a BUAD degree at Univ of Michigan? 40k?

09/17/2012 09:07 PM

Reply Jim Ohio said...
I worked at a for profit college for over a year. It was nothing short of immoral the way the students were ripped off. For the rank and file it was a mountain of debt and a worthless degree. The success stories (some exceptional students do attend these school) allow the for profits to maintain a veneer of legitimacy, make the slick media presentations, and attract more to exploit.

09/19/2012 09:21 AM

Reply Richard said...
I find the way public colleges rip students and the tax payers off for worthless degrees to be disgraceful. I taught at a public college for 19 years. They also spend a lot of money on recruiting and slick media presentations. If there is a difference, it is not apparent.

09/20/2012 07:22 PM

Reply Dr. Richard Bowers said...
Each of these comments is right on target. I worked on the nonprofit sector for over 21 years and raised nearly $100M. It was deeply appreciated. I attempted to translate this skill to a Historic Black College and University (Prairie View A&M University) and they wanted no part of my skills. Now, they wonder why student fees have increased; why there are no white professors in education; and why they have no significant collaborations with school districts? The bottom line is that their lies, desire to rob students and more are a part of their historical process. It is criminal.
Dr. Richard Bowers

09/20/2012 08:11 PM

Reply Edgi said...
I worked for for-profits for 10 years - six at a campus that was honest, with the staff all working together to have happy, educated graduated students, because happy customers give wonderful testimonials, pay back their financial aid, are a pleasure to be with, and are good for business. I was Education Director and was proud to speak at graduations, and at orientations.
I also worked for over three years at two campuses that went for the money, not the student-customers, and were awful to work for, could not look the students in the eye. I would happily work for an ethical campus again anytime.

09/20/2012 08:16 PM

Reply profmurph said...
The for-profit "colleges" are a sham. After 8 years, I have learned to shut-up, give good grades, do not criticize students or the school. It is all about customer service to those who should never be attempting college-level work. Most cannot write, read very well or correctly do the simple homework. If I graded them like I was graded in college, 95% would fail.

The federal govt. feeds these leeches off the poor and minorities. Equal opportunity does not mean guaranteed outcomes---such as a mandatory college degree for all. Shame.

09/20/2012 08:40 PM

Reply Nancy said...
What State Universities normally do NOT do that For Profits do is make students feel like someone cares. Of course someone does care in a For Profit school because a student is Profit!
In my opinion that is why they are rocking the world right now with University of Pheonix having greater than 475 thousand students this year. They do not make it a secret that they are a For Profit institution, however many students do not fully comprehend that for profit means stock holders come first not education. Others who are fully aware and need further education to further advance their careers get what they need. "I am a Pheonix" says nothing about what they learned or the quality of the education they received, only they got what they needed to move forward in their career.

09/21/2012 01:11 AM

Reply AnnEnter Your Name said...
As a Director of Career Services, I care and work very hard to find students and graduates employment within their flied of study.

09/21/2012 07:50 AM

Reply Beverlyn Banks said...
You are so correct in your statement. I am currently working toward completing my dissertation. After all the hard work and excessive amounts of $$ in student loans, my employer won't promote me, even after working there over 15 years. Finishing up the degree is even more challenging after all the course work considering the advisors and faculty don't really guide the online students. You're on your own.

09/21/2012 12:53 PM

Reply James Lerch said...
I absolutely disagree with a majority of the comments made above. I have worked at for-profit institutions for over 15 years. Yes, some are rip-offs and the owners are profiting at the expense of the students who incur large loans. YET, the industry serves a purpose in the society. Where else do web designers, auto mechanics, computer programmers, computer repair technicians, nurse practitioners, and many other non-degree trades employees come from. FROM for-profit schools who can afford to purchase the most modern and up-to-date, state-of-the-art equipment to train individuals who are not college material in useful work. Most reputable schools are accredited by SACS and ACICS, the same bodies who accredit non-profit schools and universities. Both types of schools are held to the same standards. ALSO, are state schools so inexpensive. Well, the tuition may be lower, but who pays for the rest of the costs - the state taxpayers. While many students at for-profit institutions may not be acacemically gifted, for me this means other methods, not the traditional pedagogy must be used to convey ideas. Teaching in a for-profit institution, successfully, takes a completely different mind set than in an 'academic' university. Most 'traditional' teachers fail at teaching 'for-profit' students because they are not willing to accept students 'where they are' and 'where they want to go'. I have hired many, many instructors who do not last even a full quarter, semester, etc. because they are not 'prepared' to teach this type of student.

09/22/2012 10:48 AM

Reply Cliff Wilson said...
NOBODY has mentioned the RIP-OFF of tax doallrs spent on public high schools who do NOT PREPARE students to be successful at ANY college...PELL grants have increased for pooer students, BUT this money ends up paying for remedial/developmental/transitional classes that do NOT even count towards a degree---I have worked at a public college for 20 years, and VERY few students enter into college PREPARED to succeed.

We need a prep-school model in Higher Education so we can STOP LOWERING the bar in order to increase college enrollment(s), and "make it look good" !

09/23/2012 04:12 PM

Reply Joseph Chalk said...
My supervisor has FORCED me to teach on-line classes at our community (public) college---The administration will do ANYTHING to keep numbers up---and this will lead them to receive BONUSES.
Now I have on-line college students who CANNOT read...Can anybody tutor me on how to teach business, finance, and accounting classes on-line to students who CANNOT read? Your help will be appreciated!

09/23/2012 04:17 PM

Reply Bo Luke said...
Our college president (Public College) has recently purchased a huge rusty metal globe, and had it erected outside her office window---Now she wants to add dead employees names under the metal globe, and she plans on writing these names on expensive bricks...Also, the feamle president has spent OVER $500,000 on a useless courtyard, BUT many students are on-line and cannot enjoy this extravagant waste of taxpayer money...Our college is in Kentucky, and faculty are paid poverty level wages...Can somebody please help us?

09/23/2012 04:24 PM

Reply cut and pasteEnter Your Name said...
Dear Bo Luke:
It sounds like your school could use a strong enema...Who is your college president?
Hang in there, help should come soon!

09/23/2012 04:51 PM

Reply Mr. Lewis said...
I have worked at two different For-Profit institutions over the past eight years, and I can absolutely say without question the single biggest problem that plagues these "so called" colleges, is that the people in decision making positions at both the corporate and campus level all come from corporate America. Very few true educators are in positions of influence, or even consulted on decisions that impact the quality of the educational services. If one was to take a survey of the corporate executives and campus presidents, you would find that most have MBA's and did promote from the classroom into their current managerial positions. Therefore, business will always drive how these schools are run. Moreover, at most of these colleges the path to the college presidency is to have been a Director of Admissions (Sales). Those who serve in academics rarely promote.

09/23/2012 07:53 PM

Reply Mr. Jenkins said...
I work for a for-profit now and I am miserable. I have to meet monthly "goals". The salary is great, but I'd give it up anyday to work at a non-profit college again. It's not worth it. Trust me.

09/24/2012 11:50 PM

Reply Don't go to South University said...
I worked in the "For Profit" Sector and its true, they are all about the "bottom line", scare tactics, and they still fire us as Directors of Admissions when we don't make our number. I was miserable in For profit, and made over 6 figures, but I walked away after being told to put a 65 year old women into a nursing program, costing 80k. I couldn't do it. I wish we couldn educate the public as to how these schools work. they are not worth it. Most drop out and are left with huge bills they can't pay and they go into default, ruining their credit and making it worse on them.

09/25/2012 01:17 PM

Reply corvus said...
I, too, have worked at a For-profit University that markets $70,000 Culinary Arts degrees. It's all about the profits...students-- and employees too-- are just stepping stones on the way to the land of Happy Profits for the owners. The academic standards for admission are laughable-- if you can fog a mirror, you will be accepted. The whole industry is criminal.

03/20/2013 08:29 PM

Reply Francisco said...
If you are even thinking about one of these wretched excuses for a "University," PLEASE do yourself a favor-- just go to your local Community College instead. You'll end up with a better degree and less debt.

03/20/2013 08:33 PM

Reply Fjord said...
And shame on you for passing students who should have failed the course. Ultimately, that decision was yours.

04/12/2013 09:26 PM

Reply Sarah said...
I know i'm coming into this discussion late, but i have a question for any of you that have worked for a for-profit university. I recently got a job offer from a for-profit university as an academic advisor and i'm just worried that it will besmirch my resume later on when I apply for jobs at for-profit universities (which is where I ultimately want to work). I was reluctant to even apply because of its questionable reputation but my job search hasn't been going too well. Are these schools' poor reputations seen as a reflection on you as well when applying to traditional nonprofits?? I'd really appreciate anyone's help who's had experience with this as I have no idea what to do. Thank you!

06/20/2013 12:59 PM

Reply Sarah said...
* Sorry, I meant to say when i later apply to NON profit universities.

06/20/2013 01:00 PM

Reply Anon said...
I work in the financial aid office at a for-profit, which may just be worse than the admissions office. We see students who do not work coming in to take out $45,000 programs at the low end and up to $80,000 at the higher 'BA' end. The worst was when I had to literally do a 70 year old woman's FAFSA because she had no knowledge of computers. I also remember us enrolling a student who his admissions rep KNEW could not read and did not have the mental capacity to complete his program-i know he's now in debt up to his eyeballs, with no idea what to do about it. I've also seen students strong-armed and bullied into attending classes and taking out loans they KNOW they cannot afford by their admissions reps (sales reps) because they receive a commission. It's sick. I've worked here for a year and will soon be leaving. Sometimes the money just isn't worth doing what you know is wrong.

07/15/2014 01:36 PM

Reply Anonn said...
I work for a for-profit college and I cannot believe the unethical practices. I mean there are exceptions where I feel a person might benefit but that is 1 out of 100 people I talk to. there are reps here that would enroll mentally ill people, people fresh out of prison for a Criminal Justice program and I can go on and on...I refuse to do that and compromise my dignity. its sick. and for the person that said that non profits are the same is so wring.. there is no criteria to get into a for profit you just have to pass a lame assessment that my 1 year old can do. at a non profit at least you have to have pre requisites and a certain GPA.. the scare tactics by management is so demeaning that it makes a horrible work environment. the fact they cant fire you for numbers anymore is making them make your life miserable so you quit. for anyone ever thinking of working at for profit, mcdonalds is a way better choice.

08/05/2014 01:37 PM

Reply Mike said...
does anyone know a good lawyer? I would love to start a class action against these sickos.

08/05/2014 01:40 PM