The U.S. Department of Education is “cracking down” on for-profit schools; namely career colleges, saying essentially that for-profit schools are preying on people who can’t afford to go to college and who really should not be in college.
I don’t believe that college should be for only people who can “afford” it; there aren’t many trust fund babies around anymore. Certainly not enough to support the all of higher education.
Let’s play what-if for a moment. What if for-profit, career colleges where closed down?
Most cars these days are computerized; gone is the day of going to the auto parts store and buying a manual that tells you how to fix your car. If you want your car fixed, you take it to a mechanic. Universal Technical Institute (UTI) has thirteen campuses spanning from coast to coast (Universal Technical Institute, 2010). Those thirteen campuses train mechanics in everything from motorcycles to automobiles – both gas and diesel – to marine engines. Go ahead, close down UTI and suddenly your car is useless when it breaks down.
Forget your car or motorcycle or boat for a moment; let’s talk about food. When you make a reservation at a favorite restaurant for a special occasion, chances are that the executive chef is a graduate of a for-profit college. Le Cordon Bleu North America has seventeen physical campuses and one on-line campus (Le Cordon Bleu North America, 2010).
And if you get sick from eating at a place where the executive chef was not educated in an accredited for-profit career college, you’ll head to your doctor’s office where his/her medical assistant will take care of you. While there are some states that do not require certification for medical assistants (Colorado is one of them), the trend is to hire certified, if not degree-holding, medical assistants. A trend I fully agree with; do you want to be taken care of by someone who hasn’t been fully trained in phlebotomy or pharmacology if you’re seen for food poisoning (because, remember the chef who cooked your special meal wasn’t fully educated)? I can tell you from twenty years’ experience in the medical field – you do not want the physician drawing your blood. It’s likely that the last time he/she has drawn blood was in their third or fourth year of medical school.
Of course, getting food poisoning from a special dinner and having to go to the doctor is all moot if your car’s broken and there aren’t any mechanics to fix it. I suppose you could call an ambulance, but those are typically staffed by Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and Paramedics who attended a for-profit career college.
I don’t think that the people who put this “crack down” together fully thought things through. Closing down for-profit schools will negatively impact the entire country; not just the schools themselves. The people who keep this country mobile, fed and healthy (and countless other professions) have most likely been educated at non-traditional, specialized schools.
My undergraduate degree in biology came from a traditional university. The only job I could land after I graduated, with my shiny new degree in hand, was building trophies at a trophy shop for $7.25 an hour. Eventually I was able to find a job in health care, but it wasn’t my degree that landed me the job. It was the experience I gained while working in the emergency department as an EMT that landed me the job. Career services at the university I attended consisted of a bulletin board with 3x5” cards tacked to it and a binder of employers who “may” hire a graduate.
Accreditation for a for-profit career college is extremely strict; the schools must prove that their graduates are employable after graduation and must keep track of the percentage of students placed in their field of study. Career services employees help with resume polishing, interview skills and job searches. Sure beats the “help” I got when I graduated.
I’m currently pursuing my Master’s degree. I chose a for-profit career college, which I know will provide me with the skills I need to be employable in my field.
Le Cordon Bleu North America. (2010). Cooking School Campus Locations. Retrieved July 30, 2010, from Le Cordon Bleu: http://www.chefs.edu/Campus-Locations
Universal Technical Institute. (2010). Universal Technical Institute Campus Locations. Retrieved July 30, 2010, from Universal Technical Institute: http://www.uti.edu/Home/Campus-Locations