A new study co-authored by researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the State University of New York at Buffalo finds that the streamlined curriculum at for-profit institutions is the reason many poor students -- particularly young African-Americans -- drop out.
The researchers studied 150 low-income black students from Baltimore and found those who attended for-profit institutions ended up in more debt and with fewer job opportunities than they might have had had they attended nonprofit two- or four-year institutions.
"The quick jump into for-profit schools really precludes other options that might be less costly and have a bigger return," said Stefanie DeLuca, an associate professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins and co-author of the report. "These young people are vulnerable to the flashy ads for these schools and lured in by how quickly they could get jobs."
Most of the young people in the study -- 53 percent -- pursued occupational certification at for-profit trade institutions. That certification is offered in fields like cosmetology, computer networking, auto mechanics and phlebotomy. The researchers found that for-profit institutions appealed to these students because of their desire to get to work quickly. These students also received little to no career counseling in high school and so they relied heavily on information heard during TV commercials.
Of the students who enrolled in a for-profit college, 31 percent earned certification by the time the study ended. Those students who chose for-profit colleges collected more debt and their loan default rates were higher than those who attended community colleges.
The study comes on the heels of the collapse of another major for-profit college, ITT Technical Institutes.
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