One of the most brilliant inventions of the college industrial complex is the “heads we all win, tails you lose” attitude. If you’re a success, the school takes credit and brags. If you fail, well, it’s your fault and you still owe 100% of the loans, btw. Bill Gates blew out of Harvard pretty quickly but the school still manages to celebrate its brief influence on him.
Now that the US government pressures the so-called for-profit schools for more accountability and better statistics, someone besides me is going to start asking why can’t the so-called not-for-profit schools can’t generate the same statistics. The Center for College Affordability has been asking for better metrics and even creating their own listings. Daniel Bennett, for instance, calculated the maximum debt for a law school student using the new formula. ($44k!) Why don’t we ask about placement rates and employment?
But that’s not how it was done. I was just about to say, “Good luck with that plan” when I remembered a friend describing his decision to get a masters degree so he could get a teaching job. Wasn’t that a gamble, I said? Technically, yes, he replied, but the school offered good statistics. He got into one that offered close to 100% placement. He went and they found him a job just like they promised.
These programs show that universities are quite capable of both calculating statistics and running their programs in responsible ways. (Here’s one. This lets you search a bit.) His program was proud of placing 90-some percent over the last ten years. Greed might encourage them to increase the size of their school, but they aren’t likely to do that unless they know that they can get the students who will eventually get jobs. They don’t want their placement rate to drop because that will hurt their long term sustainability. (He went 10 years ago, btw, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their rate has dropped because of the economy.)
The teaching masters aren’t the only programs. The Columbia med school post baccalaureate program promises placement rates of 90%. They know that parents are going to say, “You want me to spend another %$@$%^ $50k?!?!?”
In the near term, the college industrial complex will continue to balk at the regulations being pushed on the for-profit sector. They’ll say they can’t measure placement. They’ll point out that people get degrees in philosophy for intellectual sport. They’ll say it’s all unfair and that they’ve never offered guarantees. They’ll be right, of course, because they’ve stacked the deck in their favor over all of these years. We’ve all been conditioned to expect that it’s all the students’ fault. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The college industrial complex is capable of calculating statistics that serve their students’ interests not just their own. The teacher prep programs prove it.
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