It looks like any number of for-profit colleges are starting to suffer from significant drops in enrollment lately. This appears to be the result of increased competition from nonprofit colleges as well as increasing numbers of students becoming informed about the dangers of for-profit schools. It’s terrific news that students are becoming aware of the problematic nature of for-profits and are seeking out a better value elsewhere. Unless these schools change their MO, students who haven’t yet embraced this increased scrutiny of where and how to invest in their education, are behooved to start now.
Recently, enrollment at Apollo Group, a corporation that owns several for-profit schools, dropped by 14% last quarter. Kaplan, owned by The Washington Post Company, has also experienced a decline. The Department of Education estimates that overall, for-profit college enrollment has dropped by 2.8%. And a number of for-profit campus’ are scheduled to close soon. The companies plan to redirect funds into their online educational offerings, which have not undergone as much of an enrollment decline as the physical campuses.
Perhaps this is because students whose schedule and mobility allows for the attendance of a physical campus have better options available thanks to the above mentioned increase in competition from nonprofit schools; some students are choosing to seek associates degrees from community colleges as a cost effective precursor to a four-year college, rather than enrolling in a for-profit college.
Good news too is that the drop in enrollment as well as looming threats of increased government regulations are inducing for-profits to place a heightened focus on student success, rather than just packing them into the classroom. Hopefully change is on the way.
It’s encouraging to see that students seem to be letting go of the now dated assumption that higher education is a blanket solution to all of life’s problems. Instead, concerns about student debt and a difficult job market are inducing many to take a more proactive approach to their education by thoughtfully examining the value of the education for which they are essentially indenturing themselves. This is by no means to say that going to college isn’t worth your while, simply that students are served by approaching higher education with a clear objective in mind, and spending their energy and money accordingly.
One way students and graduates can help to increase the value of their education is by seeking to optimize their personal finances. Many are struggling with student debt, not because their education wasn’t worth the accrued debt, but simply because the complexities of financing it have left them with a less than fruitful plan to manage their debt. It can be tremendously advantageous for such individuals to avail themselves of an organization whose focus is on helping indebted students and graduates to optimize their debt.