Good News About For-Profit Schools

From the Chronicle of Higher Education comes news that students who attend for-profit schools are doing okay:

Students who attend for-profit colleges have comparable and often higher retention and graduation rates than those at other institutions, according to the findings of a study released on Wednesday.

The study concluded that at the two-year level, career colleges have higher full-time and part-time retention rates than other sectors. For example, 72 percent of full-time students at two-year career colleges return the next academic year, compared with 57 percent of those at public two-year institutions and 68 percent at private, nonprofit two-year institutions.

Now one might question the validity of a study on the effectiveness of for-profit schools conducted, as this one was, by the Imagine America Foundation (IAF), an organization that exists specifically to provide research and support for post-secondary for-profit institutions. IAF, founded in 1982, used to be known as the Career College Foundation. IAF’s funding comes from people affiliated with well-known for-profit colleges, including the Apollo Group and ITT Technical Institute.

Nevertheless, the news that for-profit schools actually do a reasonably good job retaining their students in associate’s degree programs is something worth investigating, particularly in light of the new focus on community colleges.

Oddly, the IAF study doesn’t really indicate that career colleges are actually doing a good job preparing their students for careers. While apparently “72 percent of full-time students at two-year career colleges return the next academic year” it’s still unclear how many of them actually earned degrees or obtained good jobs once they did.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer