Career Colleges: ‘We Don’t Matter’

I’ve said this before and, sadly, will probably have to say it again, but it’s just astonishing how various people in higher education will respond to reports of poor student outcomes by arguing that it’s not their fault because they have no effect whatsoever on student outcomes. For example, in reacting to newly-released data showing that 3-year default rates at many for-profit colleges are extremely high, the chief DC lobbyist for for-profit colleges, Harris N. Miller, president of the Career College Association, had this to say:

“The only thing that explains default rate is the socioeconomic background” of the student. … “By using that as the metric of quality, you will always be discriminating against low-income students.”

You’d think the notion that an organization that charges a lot of money for a given service has no impact on what happens to the consumers who receive that service would be taken as an accusation, but for-profit colleges apparently see it as an excuse. Unless, of course, they don’t; here’s the president of a for-profit college quoted later in the same article:

Arthur E. Benjamin, chief executive of the for-profit institution [ATI Career Training Center], said that jump [in the size of the three-year default rate compared to the two-year default rate] largely reflects the fact that the center in Dallas stopped providing its former students with loan-counseling assistance after the two-year period. “As a result,” Mr. Benjamin said, “the three-year rate released is not reflective of what the rate would be had the institution continued to provide counseling and assistance to its students for the full three-year period.” In the future, he said, ATI will extend that counseling by another year and thereby “substantially” reduce its default rate for the new three-year measuring period.

So I guess the only thing that explains default rates is the socioeconomic background of the students and loan counseling and assistance? Fellas! Get your stories straight next time!

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