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Researchers’ Shakily-Drawn Portrait of Career College Students

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Every few months, a different group of researchers attempts to draw a clearer picture of the students who attend for-profit institutions and why so many default on student loans. Their work, though, isn’t fine art. Actually, it’s more like the drawings of a sketch artist at an amusement park: there is some resemblance to reality, but mostly deliberate exaggeration to create an effect on the viewer.

Each group makes an effort to make their study vary somewhat from the one that came before, and at the same time embolden the findings of other researchers. Last week, several publications with a focus on higher education reported about a study conducted by Harvard researchers that claims for-profit college students face higher debt and more unemployment.

Before coming to those …

Former Student Finds Identity in Negative Blogs and Self-Imposed Dejection

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She's searching for an identity, like most people her age are, and she's found it — as a disgruntled student.

I won't use her name, because I believe in fairness (and for the same reason, I won't use the school's name.) Let's call her Sarah.

Sarah will never know who I am or what interests I have in her work. She would probably be pleased to know I found her blog and spent more than an hour reading through her posts. But Sarah would also likely be offended if she knew my affiliations, and especially disappointed with the thoughts I came away with when I was finished reading.

One aside to the Occupy movement is that it’s becoming more acceptable for former students to be not only scorned …

CEO Pay Comparison Unrealistic

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Our teacher was always clear to lay out the rules for Career Day. The last 45 minutes of class would be taken up by a classmate's father or mother who would speak about their daily responsibilities in the workplace, and we'd sit cross-legged on the tile in our elementary school's foyer with our minds in that strange half-place between concentration and hallucination. We were to pay attention, be respectful, and above all else, obey this one critical rule that was stated outright: "Don't ask how much money they make."

Sometimes, it was said aloud again: "Remember, do NOT ask how much money they make."

The guest would then enter, perfectly timed. And then after close to an hour of rapt attention and refraining from touching one another, …

Occupy Movement Proves Rules Should Apply to All of Higher Education

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The movement might be misguided or directionless. The focus, which they proclaim to be the nation's wealthiest one percent, might be the wrong target. The protestors themselves could even be acting on unfounded feelings of self-entitlement and jealousy, as some naysayers suggest they are. But the "Occupy" protestors lining streets and sitting-in on college campuses throughout the country are the most convincing evidence yet that all institutions of higher education should be subjected to the same regulations and academic standards.

The Occupiers have been criticized for not defining clearly enough the issues they oppose. Among their more formulated concerns, though, is the cost of college tuition and the lack of employment prospects after graduation. These two issues are known all too well by "for-profit" educators, who've …

Open Letter to an Angry Reader

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A comment received at 1:22 a.m. Central Standard Time on Nov. 16 through the contact form on the Career College Central website:

"I have been reading your articles and clearly you have not work at the schools that you are writing for. If you have worked at a for-profit school you must be the most naive person around. Wake up and get a clue. I have only been working for a for-profit school for less than a year and every day they take advantage of students. — Jim"

Dear Jim:

You will probably consider this response long-winded and not entirely relevant to your comment, but if you can indulge me for a few paragraphs, I promise you will be enlightened on a number of matters, including why I …

What is the Purpose of College?

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Our purpose never occurred to us while we were working toward it — and looking back, I'm thankful it did not.

While it seems like longer ago, it's only been about 10 years since my brother and I used to sit together at the kitchen table and figure word problems. The various predicaments they presented were nonsensical and often dark, involving trains heading toward collision or how long the fallout from a nuclear explosion would contaminate the environment. The work seemed more geared to plotting an elaborate terrorist strike, but we were merely working on my homework assignment for a college-level calculus class, and all we had to rely on was our intellect and my $150 graphing calculator.

Thankfully my brother was gifted with mathematics — and …

Why Greed Should Be Reassigned To Major College Athletic Departments

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The athletic departments affiliated with major colleges and universities are considered separate entities and function as corporations unto themselves. But we now know they shouldn't.

The ugliest scandal in modern college history taught us this lesson last week as a football coach more concerned with amassing victories and preserving his own legacy allowed the molestation of more than 20 young boys to go on for 15 years or longer.

You may not believe that all the blame should be put at coach Joe Paterno's doorstep for the alleged cover-up of allegations involving one-time Penn State defensive coordinator, Jerry Sandusky, who has been accused of molesting eight boys through the guise of a charitable organization for at-risk youth. But you're wrong. Paterno – the most powerful man on …

The New Breed of Career Fair-Goers

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The job pool is extremely competitive … and its waters might just be filled with blood.

The new breed of college graduates is a different animal. If you haven't met them yet, your eventual confrontation could be an intense one.

At a few minutes after 10, the doors were opened and from there it was a flood — a three hour-long deluge of awkward hellos, business card and resume exchanges, and intense questioning. The job fair was set up in a gymnasium on a small university campus, and the latest crop of would-be professionals moved around the floor with more athletic agility than would have been thought possible in business attire. The employers' booths were arranged in a large ring around the edges of a gymnasium, and …

Parthenon Group’s Research Study Adds Fight to Career College’s Achievements

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Sounding distant, his feed occasionally breaking up as though a signal hadn't been dialed in, the Parthenon Group's Rob Lytle profiled a study with findings that were suddenly news.

The first notice came via email on Tuesday noting a webinar to be hosted by career education giant Corinthian Colleges. In less than two days, with help from modern technology and an efficient public relations campaign, Lytle's telephone presentation from Europe became a can't-miss event for the higher education realm, and possibly anyone willing to keep an open mind.

On Tuesday, I wasn’t familiar with Lytle or the independent research organization with which he’s affiliated. The Parthenon Group, commissioned by Corinthian, sought to answer some long-lingering questions about career colleges or “for-profit” institutions and their value …

For-Profit Education Policy Trivia

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Let's play a little game of education policy and research trivia. Read the below statements regarding the for-profit sector and try to guess when these statements were made.

Private career schools became a front-burner issue for postsecondary education policy about _______ (hint: timeframe)…, in terms of participation in federal programs and in broader discussions about consumer rights and abuses…The impetus…can be traced to one key indicator: rapid increases in the amounts defaulted by students participating in federally guaranteed student loan programs

The sudden interest in proprietary schools generated by the debate over default led to several subsequent policy discussions. One had to do with the level of debt appropriate for young people entering the labor market, another with the increasing proportion of overall federal funds for student …

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