Going to a For-Profit College Doesn’t Help at All When Looking for Job

I’m sure most people have seen this advertisement by now . I’m talking about Red Socks, the really rather charming commercial featuring a man going about his day before ending with his big job interview

While red socks are in general not quite appropriate job interview attire, we can forget about that for a minute. The marketing campaign suggests Phoenix graduates have entered some sort of exclusive fraternity that helps them get the job because now they’re in this select group. He’s in, because he went to the University of Phoenix, just the guy doing the hiring!

It doesn’t work like that at all.

This probably shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise at this point but it turns out when trying to get a job, it doesn’t really help much at all to go to a for-profit college.

According to an article by Alan Pyke at Think Progress:

The people lured in by that marketing end up deeper in debt than community college students but fare no better with hiring managers, according to a new study. In fact, for-profit graduates don’t even gain a job hunting advantage over applicants with no college experience at all.

The study results are based on a simple experiment that the authors believe is the first of its kind performed on for-profit schools. Researchers sent nearly 9,000 fake resumes in response to job postings in six different categories of work and compared the response rates their fake applicants got to see if a for-profit college degree would be worth more in the job market than an equivalent community college certification. Some of the fictional resumes listed no education beyond high school in order to evaluate the claim from for-profit supporters that the industry “draws some students into postsecondary schooling who otherwise would not have attended college at all” and should therefore be viewed as a useful bridge to economic mobility.

What researchers found was that the for-profit degree didn’t help at all relative to a community college degree. “For-profit resumes got a response 11.3 percent of the time and an interview request 4.7 percent of the time, compared to 11.6 percent and 5.3 percent respectively for community college degrees.”

This isn’t that surprising. But what’s really interesting is this: According to Pyke:

“We also find little evidence of a benefit to listing a for-profit college relative to no college at all,” the authors write. That means that someone who spent $35,000 on a two-year associates degree — the average cost for-profit schools charge — has the same odds of getting a call back from a job they wanted as someone who spent zero dollars on college.

They might as well just have skipped the whole thing altogether.

Read more about the study here.

It does stand to reason that the red-socked applicant might do rather well in the hiring process if the person making the decision also went to the same school he did (no matter which one it was). But the reality is that someone who went to a for-profit college probably wouldn’t be called in for an interview at all. And the person making a hiring decision for a good professional job almost certainly wouldn’t have gone to a for-profit college.

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