0. Debating for-profit and nonprofit schoolsFor-profit colleges are either an acceptable alternative to nonprofit schools or a symptom of a failing higher-education system, depending on whom you ask. While critics and numerous studies argue that for-profit schools offer higher loan-default rates, lower quality of education and fewer job prospects than nonprofit schools, many from the for-profit sector believe these schools are quicker to respond to job market demands, offer more flexible class scheduling and cater to a student demographic that may have few options.
Here are six of the biggest misconceptions about for-profit institutions. Organized from the extensive number of studies on the subject, this list isn't intended to sway you, but rather provide a summation of data from which you can make the best higher-education decision.
1. They're all the same"One of the biggest myths right now surrounding for-profits is that they're all created equal, and they aren't," says Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D., president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a higher education policy and research nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. "Certainly there are institutions that are serving their students well, and there are institutions that are not serving their students well. That's a similar model that you'll find in the nonprofit sector."
Many for-profit colleges have high tuition costs and low graduation rates, but some, particularly two-year schools, outperform their nonprofit counterparts. Research compiled by The Orange County Register in Orange County, Calif., shows that private and public four-year nonprofit schools in California maintained six-year graduation rates of 72.9 percent and 65.1 percent respectively, while their for-profit competitors graduated less than one-third of attendees.
The reverse was true among two-year schools. Two-year for-profit students were between two and three times more likely to graduate in three years than students at nonprofit institutions. A national compilation of studies by the Government Accountability Office supports these premises.