Documentary about For-Profit Colleged

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by warguns, Jan 15, 2021.

  1. warguns

    warguns Member

  2. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Looks like it's streaming for rent on YouTube and Amazon Prime. Definitely giving this a watch tomorrow night!
  3. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    A clearly oppositional documentary being pushed by The Guardian? I'll pass, thanks.
    rodmc likes this.
  4. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    When it comes to for-profit schools, opposition is all the media knows how to do. Meanwhile, they ignore many of the same problems taking place at non-profit schools.
    rodmc likes this.
  5. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    I don't think that "for-profit" automatically makes it a bad school or non-profit makes it a good school, and I hope this documentary isn't making that claim. But the worst abuses have occurred at for-profit schools, which is probably not a coincidence.
  6. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    That could be true, but where is the definitive proof (beyond referencing the default rate disparity)? The consistent attacks on for-profit schools from the MSM, while ignoring or reporting on a far lesser scale the same (and worse) issues taking place at non-profit schools leaves me with questions.
  7. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    What I don't think is a coincidence is that the incidents we can all name have occurred at schools owned by publicly traded corporations rather than at schools that are privately held and don't have the same systemic pressure to inflate quarterly earnings.

    Either way, though, schools should be evaluated on their individual merits, not their tax status.
    Mac Juli, Dustin and sideman like this.
  8. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    That's a great point. I wonder if someone looked at schools owned by for-profit publicly traded companies versus for-profit privately owned schools, if there would be different outcomes.
    SteveFoerster likes this.
  9. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Sounds like a great topic for someone else's dissertation! :D
    Dustin likes this.
  10. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Watching now! About 30 minutes in, so far the blame is being placed on regulatory changes, not tax status.
  11. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Now that I finished it, I agree that it makes very little distinction between publicly traded companies and private for-profits, except when it absolutely has to (e.g. talking about the difference in endowments or drop-out rates.) It also highlights only ACICS and another, ACCSC maybe when talking about accreditation. They don't discuss accreditation at all except to point out the non-transferability of credits, and don't mention any DEAC schools, even in passing. They went into how the Obama administration was bought off by high priced lobbyists and all of the traditional rules were weakened or eliminated by George W, Obama, and now Trump.

    I liked it, but I didn't learn much new.
  12. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Sorry you had to waste money to access yet one more piece of outdated tripe in a waaaaaaaaay overcovered area in which every journalist thinks he or she is an expert (and often ends up doing more harm than good).

    To occupy your time for free, go to and do a search, within YouTube, for "for profit colleges." You'll get enough hits to get you through yet another pandemic.

    Then, for the fun of it, do a search on the same term right in your web browser (IOW, a regular Google search). Results: More of the same.

    Then go to List of for-profit universities and colleges - Wikipedia for an article that is priceless for the browsing alone - you might be surprised at how many school names you recognize.

    There are quite a few people around this joint who have trashed me because I condemn for-profit schools universally - in fact, I like to fondly refer to them as the spawn of satan. (Before someone starts coming up with examples, remember that there are exceptions to every rule. So don't bother me, you insolent turds.) But, as a general rule, if you go to a for-profit, you're asking to be ripped off.

    Finally, for a fun new article about things to come under the new administration, see Look Out, For-Profit Colleges, Here Comes the Biden Administration - Bloomberg.
  13. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    I don't consider my time wasted, it was still a good watch - even I'd seen the pain funnel and knew all about the 90/10 rule and the aggressive recruitment of veterans for their GI Bill.

    I think the issue is that the general public is not really in the position to make the kinds of comparisons that we do. A nationally accredited, for-profit school can tell prospective students "We're fully accredited and you don't have to pay a dollar upfront" and both not be lying (in a precise legal sense) and give someone a subpar, $50,000 Associates degree in Criminal Justice. I don't think that's fully the fault of the student, who often has a severe information deficit when compared with the admissions/salesperson who is pushing them through the process.

    One of the people in the documentary compared it to car sales: "Imagine if you walked into a used car lot and thought the salesman was your friend." I don't know how to remedy that deficit, but as long as flashy commercials and high pressure sales exist, people will continue to enroll in these schools and I don't blame them for being tricked.
  14. Maxwell_Smart

    Maxwell_Smart Active Member

    The media has done the job of removing doubt from the public thought, so the need/desire the public has for proof has been superseded by the reputation the media has crafted of the sector. This is why anywhere discussions on education are, you see negative conclusions on the entire sector. But the truth is, every school is different and the quality of each school is dictated by the quality of the administration that runs it. Most people will never go to multiple types of schools to find this truth for themselves, so it's much easier for them to simply agree with the prevailing opinion. It's understandable, just unfair.
    LearningAddict, innen_oda and sideman like this.
  15. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    If those abuses were common, wouldn't the largest for-profits, who have large PR budgets and expensive lobbyists on staff, have a strong motivation to direct attention to those nonprofits?

    It seems like blaming it on the media for not reporting something that you haven't proven exists in the first place is disingenuous. There's no doubt that for-profits have bilked students. Default rate is not the only metric that's been looked at, they've also examined fraudulent job placement rates, misleading advertising, aggressive salespeople, etc., and those issues seem much more rampant at for-profits - explicitly for-profits run by publicly traded companies.
  16. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    You have a big misconception of the scope and power of the overwhelming majority of for-profit schools, even some you may deem as "large" in terms of the perception that they have a large amount of spendable funds. What influenced that? More than likely the media, because from where else would a person come to that belief? If you want to find out where the largest PR budgets and expensive lobbyists are, you're looking in the wrong direction. They exist mostly at non-profits, not for-profits. Oh sure, those people may not carry the title and regalia of "lobbyist" in order to get around the laws governing the 501(c)(3) status, but they're in effect providing the same function and result. Look deeper and you'll be amazed at the number of for-profit schools that operate at the razor-edge and breaking even, and you'll also be amazed at the amount of money many so-called non-profit schools bring in versus what most for-profit schools bring in, the very high salaries of administrators/executives at those non-profit schools, and the amount of wasteful spending that goes on at many. Schools like University of Phoenix are outliers when it comes to high profit at for-profit schools, not anything close to the norm. Heck, even they don't make what they once did.

    One industry report counts the U.S. for-profit university market at just 13 Billion dollars. That's it. That's miniscule given the size of the market. Harvard alone has an endowment of nearly 42 Billion dollars! In 2019 they brought in 5.5 billion in revenue. That's one non-profit school. I know, I know, "It's Harvard! It's Harvard!", fine, but go down the list and see plenty of other huge endowments and revenue (and surplus) totals from other non-profit schools. If you want to know who has the real power and influence, follow the trail of the sector that has the most money.

    Nope, not "disingenuous", just factual, and the proof is easy to find since we can read articles about issues, look up endowment sizes and revenue totals, and look up default rates. These things are a matter of open public record. The problem is, regardless of all of that, there is one way the media handles non-profit issues, and another more aggressive way they handle for-profit issues (documentaries, books, hit pieces, countless articles). I'm not imagining those things. They actually happened and are still happening.

    The most pressing matter right now is student loan debt. I bring up the default rate because it is of course a very large, important part of the equation. We all know the default rate is higher with for-profit schools, but the media always manages to ignore the key fact that for-profit schools are almost entirely open-enrollment programs which obviously is going to lead to higher enrollment numbers and therefore more defaults. Ignoring that catalyst as the media has is disingenuous and intellectually dishonest. Underneath all of that is a mix of irony and hypocrisy: the same people who yell that education should be open to everyone are the same people attacking for-profit schools for literally making education open to everyone with the open enrollment position.

    Tuition rates and default rates are far above high enough at non-profit schools for them to discussed by name and investigated with the same aggressiveness. Yet, the media always throws those issues onto for-profit schools almost exclusively.

    Yep, it's not the only metric that's been looked at, and of all the ones that have been, non-profit schools have had issues with the same or similar things. The main point is: instead of chasing the ghost of what "seems more rampant" which can't be entirely proven, let's deal with each school individually, and factually, since in fact each school operates individually and differently.
    Maxwell_Smart and sideman like this.
  17. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Or maybe the public financials, that show Apollo (for example) bringing in $2.1 billion dollars last year from Phoenix alone, while many large college budgets are 10-20% of that. We can see their Board Members: Tony Miller is the former Deputy Undersecretary of Education. Of course he's going to be lobbying his former colleagues.

    You're repeatedly saying, without proof, that just because something can exist at nonprofit schools it must be happening with such frequency that it overshadows whatever the for-profits are doing, but somehow escaping all scrutiny because of the evil media - including all of the conservative media who profess to love the free market, hate government intervention in education, and insist that state-funded schools are hotbeds of liberal extremism. Somehow they're involved in this media blackout of nonprofit misdeeds too? I don't buy it.

    We have earnings disclosures and student loan default data and tuition comparison numbers that show that most for-profits are providing much worse ROI on average than their nonprofit brethren. There's a reason nobody publishes bombshell reports about state schools - they as a group don't act the way the for-profit schools do as a group.

    I don't think we're going to agree on this so I'm not going to keep coming back. We've both said our piece. If you've had a good experience at a for-profit, great. I was briefly enrolled at APUS and it looked like a great school. I still wouldn't pay a dime to Phoenix, Corinthian or ITT Tech (when they existed). If you want to, more power to you.
  18. LearningAddict

    LearningAddict Well-Known Member

    I don't get you being upset and storming off to the point of "I'm not coming back". I mean, good lord, that's awfully dramatic and Reddit-like in a situation where you weren't disrespected. It's a discussion, the whole point of the board. But regardless of that, I'll still respond for passersby:

    I've already stated that University of Phoenix is an outlier. It's also the obligatory usual suspect.

    That's quite an exaggeration/mischaracterization of what I've said. That's not what I said. What I've actually been saying is that both sides have many of the same or similar issues, and that the body of proof concerning your belief that the issues are "rampant" at for-profit schools wasn't substantiated simply by you saying it "seemed" that way (or because the media chose to focus on it for that matter, although the media loves to focus on the same small group of schools UoP, ITT (defunct), DeVry, and then apply their issues to the whole of the for-profit sector).

    What's odd is that you're claiming a rampant issue that you yourself have not proven while repeatedly saying that I have no proof. What is it that I don't have proof of? That these issues aren't isolated to for-profit schools? I think everyone would agree that for-profit schools are not alone on these issues. That said, the idea wasn't for either of us to start posting an exhaustive of examples. If you want that kind of information, it can be found.

    Oh, there have been bombshells at state schools, and sometimes they act way worse. Take the one at Dickinson State University:

    Yeah, that happened, and there are other bombshells. The question is, why after something that scandalous can you find so little about it? I can find countless articles on comparatively minor issues that happened at a for-profit school over a decade ago, but an international degree-selling ring run from a state university brings up so little in search. Why? It's almost as if that has been pretty much forgotten.

    As for ROI, I think ROI is a discussion all to itself because what success a person has after leaving any school is a huge variable. Certainly, some schools will provide higher returns than others, no doubt about it, and most for-profit schools would lose out on that compared to a state school. But none of that speaks to quality of education. If anything, it can be well-argued that it speaks to perception. The school with the perceived higher value is going to overtake the school with the lesser perceived value, but that's not an issue of being for-profit, that's an issue of not having a comparable perceived value. You could remove the for-profit school from that equation and insert a lesser/virtually unknown non-profit school and see a similar outcome when compared against the better-received school.

    Well, the idea isn't to just agree on everything. That would be fake, and pointless. The idea is to at least consider viewpoints that differ from your own... that's how you learn and grow as a person.

    It's also not a personal matter. Whether I've had a good or bad experience at a for-profit is irrelevant to the points I've made. Having said that, I have had both good and bad experiences at non-profit schools, for-profit schools, regionally accredited schools, nationally accredited schools, large schools, small schools, mid-sized schools, online, offline B&M, and by-mail. I have enough degrees. I won't be going to Phoenix, Corinthian or ITT Tech (couldn't anyway, they're defunct), so no power to me on that, lol, but thanks for the gesture.
    Maxwell_Smart likes this.
  19. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    1. It was clear to me he merely meant not coming back to this particular conversation.

    2. Polite disengagement from an ongoing conversation is not "storming off".
  20. Maxwell_Smart

    Maxwell_Smart Active Member

    The Dickinson State University situation was unbelievable. That was one of the most despicable things ever in higher education. Non-profit, state-based, regionally accredited. Absolute disaster.

    As much as I like WGU, they've been in hot water for things like abnormally high enrollment numbers in relation to faculty contact, persistent sales tactics, contact time deficiencies with instructors & mentoring faculty, and federal financial aid discrepancies, and they are a state-based University in 7 states. Their issues were, overall, national. Non-profit, state-based, regionally accredited. Big mess.

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