The only people benefiting from the misinformed persecution of for-profit education are politicians
I ask your indulgence readers as I step away from the instructional technology niche for a moment to help raise awareness and fight the misinformation about schools like mine that we often hear coming out of Albany and Washington, DC. Thank you. – KW
I am proud to work at The College of Westchester (CW) a privately held for-profit college where we have an impressive track record of helping our students graduate and significantly improve their economic mobility. Ninety percent are Pell Grant recipients and most are the first in their families to attend college. They are proud, bright, capable young men and women who work hard to achieve success.
The federal government's own data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics shows our graduation rate at 50% (as opposed to just 18% at the local community college). In a 2015 report from the Brookings Institute, The College of Westchester was ranked in the top 10% nationally at improving students' economic mobility. And in a 2019 study from Georgetown University that ranked 4,529 higher education institutions based on Return on Investment (ROI), The College of Westchester ranked in the top 27% based on 20 Year Net Present Value of Earnings.
I can go on about other quality outcomes and measures like CW’s low average net price of $17,237, low default rate of 7.5% and the high percentage of revenues committed to student support services.
Despite our impressive outcomes we get labelled, demeaned and targeted because of our tax status, “for-profit.” Most of this originates from some other for-profit schools – primarily publicly traded for-profit colleges that have performed poorly and not done right by their students. Many, if not most of these bad actors are gone. But still we are constantly threatened by the state and federal government with regulations that would harm our students and potentially even put us out of business, despite our stellar student outcomes.
Another important point of clarification in our sector is that there is also a big difference between regionally accredited degree granting institutions like ours and the for-profits that are not degree granting. But the politicians that target for-profits generally ignore that important distinction as well.
In New York Governor Cuomo's State of the State address this January, he once again lumped all for-profits together with misleading statements like this: “their business model encourages signing students up for classes, not educating them.” When it comes to The College of Westchester, the Governor could not be more wrong. Retention and graduation is everyone's job here and we spent inordinate amounts of time and resources constantly striving to help each and every student do the best they can. And while we may not have the graduation rates that some of our state's public universities achieve, we are teaching a very different type of student. These socioeconomically disadvantaged students need far more support services than the top ranked students that get accepted at the big SUNY schools, and we excel at providing those services. Governor Cuomo, I am personally insulted by your constant verbal abuse of our sector and your ignorance regarding what we do and the value we bring to our communities. By the way, we also pay taxes (as opposed to the huge state universities that consume significant amounts of taxpayer dollars, sometimes on things like rock walls and smoothy bars).
I encourage readers to recognize that claiming that all for-profit schools are not serving their students well is totally misleading and undeniably false. This is no different than claiming that all community colleges are failing their students because some of them have dreadful graduation rates.
We’re just asking for a level playing field, where all colleges are evaluated (and regulated if necessary) based on quality student outcomes, not the tax status of the institution. It’s just about fundamental fairness.