There are a number of companies that operate as for-profit universities. On one hand, these companies are filling a need and often have more advanced online capabilities than traditional universities, but they are not without their problems. Here are some things to think about when looking at different educational options.
- What if management changes? Even if the company running a for-profit university is a good company today, what happens if different management starts putting a heavier focus on short term profit and less focus on academics. Your degree may become a black spot on your resume no matter how good it was at the time you got it.
- What type of accreditation? There are many ways a college can be accredited. Make sure you understand. You don’t want to go somewhere that is accredited by a little home business run from the Bahamas (yes that happens). One of the best ways to get a feel for a university’s true status is to call a large state university and ask if the credits from your potential school will transfer in. If the state school won’t recognize the credits, you should be wary.
- Certifications and tests. In some cases your degree will get you to the point that you can take a certification or licensing test. However, there are some cases where a university may be accredited, but their programs don’t qualify you to sit for the exam without getting additional experience. Of course you aren’t going to be able to get experience until you sit for the exam. Some people have found this after paying tens of thousands of dollars for a degree that they can’t use to get a job.
- Is the cost reasonable? Some for-profit universities will charge outrageous fees in order to increase the perceived value of their degrees. Be concerned if a masters degree from Capella costs more than a masters degree from Harvard.
There is a place for for-profit schools, but as the buyer you need to be very careful and understand exactly what you are getting into. Don’t assume they are good deals and don’t assume that your education will allow you to get a job. Put in the effort required to understand the degree you are pursuing.