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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

For-profit schools are helping destroy higher education

For-profit schools prey on vulnerable members of society
For-profit schools prey on vulnerable members of society

Capitalist ventures that intentionally prey on the underprivileged, the desperate, and even the disabled: luring them in with the promise of a better life. Convincing them that by spending all that they own and then some, the comfortable life that they’d always dreamed of will be just around the corner. No, I’m not referring to heartless investment banks with their eyes on the bottom line- the villains in this story are for-profit universities.

Student debt has risen to unconscionable proportions in recent times. In the past decade, the amount of student debt has almost tripled. Seven out of every ten students in the country graduate from university with outstanding student loans. According to CNN, the dollar amount of student loan debt has risen 84 percent since 2008 to $1.2 trillion. Student loan debt now surpasses other forms of debt like auto loan and credit card and is second only to mortgages.

For-profit universities, most of which trade publicly on stock exchanges in the country, have contributed in no small measure to the obscene amounts of student debt being shouldered by past and present college-goers in the United States. Schools like Devry University, ITT Tech, and Phoenix University have one goal in mind, and it’s not to educate young brains.

They have profit maximization at the forefront of their plans and will stoop as low as possible for those checks. Their modus operandi is pretty simple: flood TV screens and the internet with ads aimed at hardworking but impoverished people looking for a way out of poverty. The ads preach the doctrine of following your dreams and making money while you’re at it, while presenting these institutions as roads to the American Dream.

These for-profit universities promise jobs right after graduation and a “happily ever after” story that is rivaled only by the best Disney flicks. Unfortunately, the reality is more like something out of a Stephen King novel.

A report published by the Senate Committee in 2012 found that for-profit universities annually receive around $32 billion in aid from the US government. The report also noted that they charge tuition rates three times higher than comparable state institutions while spending less on their students.

According to “The For-Profit Postsecondary School Sector: Nimble Critters or Agile Predators?,” a study carried out by Harvard Scholars, six years after starting college, for-profit university graduates are employed at lower rates and earn less than their peers from state and federal universities. According to the same study, average earnings were $1,800 to $2,000 lower for students who had attended for-profit colleges than for other students.

For-profit colleges enroll just about 12 percent of students in the country, yet federal data indicates they account for four times that number of student loan defaults. According to research by economists David J. Deming, Noam Yuchtman, Amira Abulafi, Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence F. Katz, graduates from for-profit universities are 22 percent less likely to receive callbacks from potential employers after job interviews than similar applicants from public universities.

Yet these schools continue to lure in the underprivileged with lies about potential job prospects. And that’s not even the worst thing they do. Veterans are actively and aggressively sought out by “enrollment counselors” working for for-profit universities with an eye on a piece of veterans’ sweet GI Bill money. The tactics used to get veterans to enroll range from cringeworthy to downright disgusting.

For-profit colleges are a scourge of the educational system of the US, and it’s time we stopped them from exploiting any more of our youth and veterans.