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An open mind on for-profits

If for-profit colleges were non-profit, would we worry about their growth? Yes, writes Sara Goldrick-Rab, a University of Wisconsin education professor, on The Education Optimists.

We’d be worried about the quality of what’s being proffered, what students are actually learning, how hard the colleges are working to recruit students not really ready for college work, how much debt folks are graduating with relative to their new income, etc.

Here’s the rub: We should have the same concerns about our current public and private non-profit institutions of higher education. Many of us do have these concerns. We are just less vocal about them, perhaps because it is so much easier to object to treating people badly while making a buck, compared to treating people badly while not making a buck.

Enrollment in the for-profit sector is growing, because the public sector isn’t meeting demand, she writes. Some for-profits have made innovative efforts to “help transfer students and older students find a more fluid and efficient way to a credential.”

She’s keeping an open mind and hoping the conversation in Washington about the for-profit sector is broadened and deepened.