Whether you’re fresh out of high school or you’ve launched a career, a college degree will improve your job prospects.

Yes, it’s true employers increasingly want to hire applicants with college degrees and in many cases with advanced degrees.

If you’re considering more education, however, you need to ask yourself three key questions:

Firstly, are you ready?

Sad to say, many students haven’t been mentally ready for college-level studies. That’s even true at the community-college level.

Secondly, what school is right for you?

The best companies also consider the applicant’s choice of schools. It’s important to also consider which school suits you best and vice versa.

Unless you really don’t have a choice, avoid community colleges. The pay for instructors is low. Most are part-time instructors, and they work without benefits. So, they have to work at other jobs to make ends meet. This means they don’t have extra time to help such students.

Here’s another consideration – the increasingly high dropout rate. Many schools don’t have a completion culture. A 2009 government survey showed nearly two-thirds of students don’t graduate in four years from the college they enter.

More than 40 percent failed to graduate in six years.

Having to work was an impediment for many students.

Thirdly, are you aware of the dangers of a for-profit school?

For great employers, for-profit schools don’t make the grade for students and their careers.

The performance record of for-profit schools is to be questioned. They’re considered part of a parasitic industry.

Yes, a parasitic industry, which is confirmed by a two-year investigation by U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee released in 2012.

“In this report, you will find overwhelming documentation of overpriced tuition, predatory recruiting practices, sky-high dropout rates, billions of taxpayer dollars spent on aggressive marketing and advertising, and companies gaming regulations to maximize profits,” said Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) in a press release announcing the report.

Private equity firms and publicly traded companies own these for-profit schools.

They set high tuition rates to garner the maximum number of taxpayer dollars. They’ve been accused of conning students to incur huge debt without providing them detailed information. Such schools permit students to get student loans that cover tuition and other fees but living expenses, as well.

Sadly, students don’t understand their tuition costs because they don’t see the bills. Their tuition is subtracted from their student loans.

The investigation’s salient findings:

  • For-profit schools get $30 billion from government sources – 25 percent of Education Department loans and grants, 37 percent of GI Bill benefits, and 50 percent of Defense Department tuition assistance, totaling $30 billion. Taxpayer money comprises 86 percent of revenue for 15 publicly traded for-profit college companies.
  • A lot of the taxpayer money is spent on executive salaries, marketing, and profits. The typical CEO compensation was $7.3 million. Cited were 30 for-profit college companies in 2009 with an average of 22 percent spent on marketing and recruiting and 19 percent to profit, but only 18 percent for student teaching.
  • Typically, for-profit colleges are more expensive than community colleges and public universities. The exorbitant costs force 96 percent of their students take out federal or private student loans – more than 20 percent of these students default on their loans in less than 36 months.
  • Many students are mired in debt but don’t receive the benefit of a degree. The for-profit dropout rate is high. In the 2008 to 2009 school year, more than 50 percent of their students dropped out about a year later.
  • Students are victimized by disingenuous recruiters, who often mislead students about accreditation, completion rates, costs and job-placement assistance.

From the Coach’s Corner, note: Despite the nation’s skyrocketing rate of student debt, and to help insure the for-profit schools and private student loan companies, bankruptcy isn’t an option. The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005 was made law after the bill was signed by President George Bush.

A provision – preventing student loans in bankruptcy filings – was furtively inserted after lobbying by Sallie Mae. (Note: Over the years, a lot of readers of complained to me about Sallie Mae’s practices, for example: Options for Victims of Predatory Student Loans.)

So make the right choices. Good luck in your education.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
-William Butler Yeats


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.