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Why I’m Thankful For “For Profit Education”


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A decade ago I started my first job. While I cannot recall all of the two week training, I vividly remember the President and Chief Operating Officer coming in and making a speech. Andrew Rosen, now CEO of Kaplan Inc. said, “Congratulations on working in a company that changes lives. Neither myself nor anyone else in this organization will ever ask you to do anything that you cannot go home and brag to your grandparents about. You will go home everyday proud of the job that you do – because what you are doing is changing people’s lives”.

Over my six years with the Kaplan Inc. conglomerate – he was right. My initial training was engrained in me and still is; “Enroll the right student, in the right program, at the right time.” Those of us in the for profit education industry that live and work by that Kaplan motto go home everyday and say to ourselves, “I changed a life today.”

With all of the negative light shining on the for profit education industry, recently I’ve been feeling angry and a bit jaded. Certainly, there are one or two ‘bad apples’ and everyone makes mistakes; but what was not shown are the thousands of lives that have been changed for the better because of for profit education. The government chooses to neglect to mention that for profit education came about based on a need. There were (and still are) thousands of people who were unable to get into a community college or state universities because the classes were too small, not offered at the right time, and sometimes – too expensive. The pioneers in the for profit education industry have helped better hundreds of lives and supplied thousands of degrees to those who would have otherwise not had an option.

Certainly, I am against any fraudulent behavior, and I don’t think setting regulations is a negative. However, the public slamming of an industry is not just hurting the businessmen; more importantly, it degrades the names of the institutions and devalues its education; this affects the students. Graduates of these programs not only took courses that met the same academic standards as any other regionally accredited institution, but they were also extremely disciplined and determined. They should be applauded for their degree; not meant to feel bad about it.

I go back to the statement Andrew Rosen made eight years ago and look at what he, as well as some of the other leaders in the for profit industry have said and done; and I’m proud to be a part of bettering people’s lives. I’m thankful that educators were innovative enough to allow for the growth in the for profit and non profit education world; and I hope that we remember, as we are reviewing and revising the regulations, that these men are brilliant businessmen. The CEOs in these companies could have gone anywhere and done anything; but they chose to help people. They did not choose to short stocks or to bet against the mortgage industry; they chose to better people’s lives. The government needs to remember that before defaming these schools and their names.

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  1. August 17, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Bizrelationships, didn’t know if you’d happen to have seen this:
    Goldwater Institute: Nation’s universities suffer from ”administrative bloat”
    AZ’s state universities get slammed pretty hard. Ouch.

  2. August 17, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Definitely interesting. This whole thing is just 1 capitalistic nightmare; but even more so in this industry because whatever happens is going to negatively affect students – which is my opinion is far worse than effecting the schools…

  3. August 18, 2010 at 10:12 am

    just as you would ask that the world not paint all for-profit with the same brush, your comments cannot apply to all for-profit schools. many of the institutions that you are supporting (especially the privately held organizations) are guilty of tactics that steal from the taxpayer and leave many of the less privileged, through a cruel ironic twist, worse than they were before the education.

    check out the video from the Senate HELP committee hearing earlier in the month –

    http://friendofthestudent.wordpress.com/govt-actions-senate-help-committee/

    there is no excuse for this. the facts are the GAO found 15 for 15 for-profit schools (including Kaplan twice) guilty of providing misleading statements in the admissions process and found four cases of reps advising students to commit FRAUD. this can only be motivated by greed and looks just a little too much like the mortgage industry just 3 years ago.

    for-profit has a long way to go before it can earn the right to wear anything close to a white hat.

    • August 19, 2010 at 5:22 am

      If you read my most recent post on this topic, you will see that I agree with you in some instances and yes, I did see everything that was on your site. To address your comments categorically:

      1. “many of the institutions that you are supporting (especially the privately held organizations) are guilty of tactics that steal from the taxpayer and leave many of the less privileged, through a cruel ironic twist, worse than they were before the education” – TRUE, however this is happening at non profit schools as well. While the instances are higher at for profit schools, this can / may be attributed to ‘selling’ the wrong students, but there are also other variables to take into account: the student that goes to a for profit school IS a different demographic. They are typically adult learners that could not get into a state university. I am a proponent of “education for everyone” and currently, the US does not provide that.

      WIll be back later to comment more ( ; running out

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