Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Phoenix cuts 700 jobs

Interesting day in for-profit higher education  - Phoenix cut 700 jobs today mostly in admissions.  Not shocking based on their current issues with the Education department.

What made it interesting to me was that I provided a reference to Laureate Education for an employee who worked for me when I was CEO.  They are adding 250 curriculum developers in order to meet the new requirements. 

Two very different responses to the same issue.  One puts the halt on recruiting - the other builds in more quality. 

Less Money, More Students = stagnation

Joanne Jacobs reports that Community Colleges get less money, more students from a Washington Post article.  Boiling it down to the relevant numbers as we do here at VirtuLearning:
  1. 35 states cut higher education budgets in 2010
  2. 31 states report they will cut higher education budgets again in 2011
  3. VA cut $105 million from community colleges since 2008 - while enrollment increased by 26,000 students
  4. CA cut 8% across the board  and 140,000 students were turned away
  5. NY community colleges had a waiting list
  6. 2010 - College of Southern Nevada turned away 5,000 students
  7. College of Southern Nevada has a waiting list for ever biology, physical science and math class
Less money + more students = bottlenecks in classes = LESS graduates.  High school graduates are being told to get a college degree.  But safety schools are tough to get into and the old standby doesn't have room for them?  Are we surprised that for-profits have astronomical growth? 

President Obama says we will have more graduates than any other country yet they continue to attack institutions that can deliver on that promise.  It is time to work together - for profit and non-profits to serve our high school graduates.

Monday, November 29, 2010

For Profit vs Non Profit University

People love to bash for-profit colleges and universities - like Ed Trust in the blog I posted earlier. 

Isn't it amusing that Private Non-Profits are just as evil?  Joanne Jacobs has a post about a student who found herself $200,000 in debt with a sociology degree and no way to pay for it!!  Very similar to the Women's Study major from NYU who found herself $100,000 in debt and had trouble paying for it with her $12 an hour photographers assistant job!

In both cases the students received no advice on finances.  If these were for-profit schools, the outrage would be extreme with calls for regulations on these evil empires.  But it seems because these are non-profit private schools, it is the students fault.

It is time to hold all schools accountable, not just for-profits.

For Profit Colleges - Scathing Report from EdTrust

The Education Trusts released a scathing report on online colleges entitled Subprime Opportunity:  The Unfulfilled Promise of For-Profit Colleges and Universities. WARNING:  there is absolutely no attempt at providing any other view point in this report.  This report strictly serves to bash the entire industry without looking for any positives at all. 

First - they use percentages to show the dramatic growth in for-profits as an astronomical 236% over the last 10 years. This is not surprising since the industry barely existed 10 years ago and the reputation back then was awful.  Second - they don't even try to find schools that are doing right by students and are offering lower costs.

However there is some good data in the the report - mainly the graduation rate and average debt. 

Phoenix Online University has a graduation rate of 5% - this is HORRENDOUS and deserves their scorn. Since they have the greatest numbers of students and the lowest graduation rate, they are bringing down the for-profit graduation rate. 

Second - the median debt for bachelor's degrees is as follows:
  • Public:  $7,960
  • Private, Non-Profit:  $17,040
  • For Profit:  $31,190 
OK - that stinks and should not be that high.  For Profit Universities can, and should be doing things that help students reduce costs.  And there are programs that are - like American University System schools which provide degree programs at significantly less costs than most public schools.

So - a little balance would be nice.  But the balance can't hide the dismal track record so far - for-profits need to wake up and smell the metrics!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Online Learning in Higher Education

The Sloan Consortium has published "Class Differences: Online Education in the United States, 2010" which is an incredible resource for understanding the snails pace for technology adoption in our Colleges and Universities.

From the report based on responses form more than 2,500 colleges and universities:

"The evidence: After remaining steady for a number of years, the proportion of chief academic officers saying that online education is critical to their long-term strategy took an upward turn in 2010.
  • Sixty-three percent of all reporting institutions said that online learning was a critical part of their institution’s long term strategy, a small increase from fifty-nine percent in 2009.
  • The year-to-year change was greatest among the for-profit institutions, which increased from fifty-one percent agreeing in 2009 to sixty-one percent in 2010.
  • For-profit institutions also were the most likely to have included online learning as a part of their strategic plan."
The staggering thing is that online enrollments have really taken off in the last year.  Over 5.6 million students took at least one online course for the fall 2009 term - and increase of nearly 21% compared to growth of only 2% in total students going to college. Nearly 31% of college students take at least one course online!

Big shift in perception of online learning quality:
  • 2003:  57% of academic leaders say online learning outcomes are the same as or better than face-to-face
  • 2009:  75% of academic leaders say online learning outcomes are the same as or better than face-to-face
Well worth reading.  Always good to have the statistics handy.  For a great graph on online learning growth - see Quick and the Ed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

College Admissions SCAM

Eric Hoover has a great piece on the the College Admissions scam in the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Application Inflation has taken over and schools are more concerned with how many students they reject so that they can show that they are exclusive. 

Applications have now become big business and in a time of huge budget cuts due to the economy, it is not going away.  Let's do the math at $50 an application.:
  • Stanford:  32,022 applications = $1.6 million
  • Tulane:  44,000 applications = $2,2 million
  • UCLA:  57,670 applications = $2.9 million
And the biggest winner of all!!!  The College Board selling 80 million names to 1,200 colleges at 32 cents a name for a total revenue of $25.6 million! Wow.

So 1,200 universities - even if they each just have an average of 7,500 applicants is about $450 million in revenue plus the $25.6 million that College Board makes = $475 million dollar business. 

Wow - I thought we were worried about for-profits making too much money off of the American dream of a college education.  These are some pretty big numbers.

How to fix it - make it more challenging to apply to over 10 schools.
  1. Get rid of the common application - it is too easy to click a button and apply to more schools
  2. Eliminate selectivity as a measure of pride - focus more on graduation rates, completion rates etc
  3. Bring back the interview - if you haven't been to school, do you really want to go there?
  4. Increase the application fee - simple economics here

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For Profit College = Loans

This is why Congress is not happy - pretty simple really (with a great chart from Geek Stats )
  • 94.4% students at for profits take out loans
  • 44.3% students in traditional four year schools take out loans
  • 16.6% students in community college take out loans
College Gradution Rates
  • 38.1% For Profit graduate
  • 54.9% traditional four year public
  • 22.0% two year public
A big deal - if you don't finish the degree, how can you pay back the loan.

Monday, November 15, 2010

ABC News For-Profit Education Sting

ABC News is back at it again - catching for-profit universities lying to get students.  In this case it was Remington College telling convicted felons that they could have a satisfying career in criminal justice.  It was one of their own professors that turned them in.  So ABC tried to enroll after telling the recruiter they had a criminal record and were told that they could not be a police office but could go into the field.

Really.  You are going to try and recruit felons into your Criminal Justice degree program?

So they next went to DeVry and tried to say that their recruiters are lying.  Except they really are not lying - they are reporting employment statistics on their graduates at 88% in their field of study.  Pretty cool - though a lot of those students are already employed in their field of study before they come to DeVry - so what?  THEY HAVE JOBS IN THEIR FIELD OF STUDY ABC!!  That is a good thing.

They must have been really bummed when they called Phoenix - because they called twice and couldn't get a recruiter to lie about getting a New York teaching certificate through Phoenix.

The headline was recruiters caught offering bad advice.  Really - are our college students getting great advice at non-profit, public universities?   Is that why we have so many women's studies majors looking for jobs?

No one should enroll felons in criminal justice degree programs.  But other than that, it looks like the For-Profit education industry is making a lot of progress cleaning up some issues.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Higher Ed Virtual Learning Stopped by Higher Ed

"We have met the enemy and he is us!"  Great new article in the Chronicle of Higher Education stating:

"The biggest factors holding back the expansion of online programs at the 183 responding colleges? Lack of instructors and support personnel (61%) and budget cuts (56%).  67% reported having growth plans fettered by "student demand for online courses which exceeds the capacity to provide these courses."

Glacial pace - and for students who are used to the Internet age of limitless choices, going to college is incredibly frustrating.  Schools feel that cramming 400 students in an auditorium is a fine way to learn but resist putting that course online?

This is why for-profit schools are taking market share.  They are meeting the actual demand of the consumer - online classes that meet the student's schedule, not the college schedule.  If colleges and universities don't start putting more towards online classes, they will continue to lose their customers.

One amazing solution is American University System which partners with colleges to move their graduate and undergraduate programs online.  This true partnership reduces the up-front costs and increases the revenue for the school.  In the era of budget slashing, it allows our schools to meet the demand of their students.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Campus Rep Opportunity

One of the most annoying thing as a parent of college students is the amount of pain they go through every time they have to schedule classes.  As an ops guy, it boggles the mind that the school can't figure out how many of each class to schedule in order to accommodate students. 

That's why my buddies at Straighterline make so much sense - you can take the Gen Eds on your time and at a much lower price. 

And now they are looking for college reps:  http://www.straighterline.com/getinvolved.cfm 

Take a look - a great way to help your fellow students and earn a little cash to help with college costs.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Graduation Rates at For-Profit Colleges

There is a great table at IES that brings to light why Congress wants to measure graduation rates.  It should also force them to look at ALL schools.

Here are the total college graduation rates from the 2008 data collection -
Public College:  53.3%
Private Not-for-Profit:  64.4%
Private For-Profit:  38.1%

Not two shabby until you split out the 4 year vs 2 year degree seekers
4 year degree graduation rates / 2 year degree graduation rates
Public: 54.9%  /  22.0%
Private Not-For-Profit:  64.6%  /  51.4%
Private For-Profit:  22.0%  /  59.7%

Wow - pretty wild stuff.  For-profit schools kick butt in the two year programs but are dismal in the four year programs!   But public institutions stink at 2 year programs but are solid in the four year programs.

This is not all that surprising.  The for-profits started with the two year programs and that is where they excel. Only in recent years have they tackled four year degrees.  Maybe the Federal Government should also crack down on Public 2 year schools and their graduation rate!

We have all got to do better.  Everyone needs more skin in the game for them to fight to get students to a degree.  Supplemental Education Services (or SES) under NCLB would only pay for students who completed the program.  While this would adversely affect college standards, if there were a financial penalty for the school for students using student loans who didn't complete in 4 years, it would create a much more efficient system. 

Skin in the game would be a total game changer.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

International Grad Students UP

I worked for Kaplan in the Pre-9/11 world where International Students where are great way to grow your graduate business. They needed TOEFL scores and help with the GMAT and we saw tremendous growth until some terrorists decided to use education as a way to tear our country apart.

It is interesting to see the numbers coming up according to Inside Higher Ed - International Grad students are up 3% this year.  After huge dips in India and Korea last year, they are only down slightly this year and China is up 20%. 

Not good - in the world of 100% online degrees - shouldn't we be capturing even more of this market?  And students wouldn't even have to leave their home country!  In this global economy, education should be one of our greatest exports and we need to capitalize on this before China or India beats us to the punch. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Where was NoteUtopia when I was in College

Having a wandering mind in my youth - the only way for me to pay attention in class was to take copious notes.  I would rarely have to use the notes because once I took them, I stored the information.  If only NotUtopia was around then (and the internet in general) - I could have sold my notes in a wonderful example of free market education.

And as is often in the case in free market education, the education establishment must immediately squash it. Only California would have an actual law that prohibits selling class notes.  But who owns the notes I take in class? 

Once again, the virtual world is shaking up the status quo.  They can continue to pass laws to try to hold on to the dated classroom methodology  - but students just find another way to use technology to make this massively inefficient system more efficient.  And the pace of change is accelerating.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Online Schools Going Mainstream

Having my morning coffee and reading the front page of the Dallas Morning News and immediately smile to see an article about online schools,  It is really a nice piece on how these schools are helping a diverse group of students.

What is so nice about this is that it doesn't talk about he politics or the fight between the education blob and the those wanting reform - it just talks about kids learning in the environment that is right for them!

There is no one right answer for all kids - it will take a variety of settings to meet the needs of all students - nice to see a balanced article that really drives this point home.  Thank you Jeffrey Weiss for a great article!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Air Force Tech to Principal

It seems that no matter where I go I end up focusing in some way on the military.  I still love the military, all that it stands for and the men and women who make this country great.  I am working with some amazing Servicemembers who became teachers in my current role.

I was ABCTE's leader for 5 years and loved every minute of it.  One of the best things about that organization was that we worked very closely with Troops to Teachers.  One of my team just sent be a great story about an Air Force Technician who became a teacher and now a Principal.  Her name is Debra Richerson and her story is a great testament to the quality of the military and the quality of the ABCTE program.

As Veteran's Day approaches it is a great reminder that our military veterans continue to serve this country in, and out, of military service.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One Third of College Grads regret their Major

Another no-duh moment in American surveys.  In a tight job market, 36% of workers with a job wish they had chosen a different major according to a CareerBuilder survey. One in five workers with a college degree still have not found a job in their desired field. 

I was with another school representative the other day who asked a military student what he wanted to study - the student answered history - the representative asked him if he was going to open a History store some day. 

The point being - when a college degree costs upwards of $100,000 you cannot waste your time 'finding yourself.  You have to invest the money to set yourself up doing something you want that can actually earn you a living.  Otherwise, don't invest the money.

Get a real major and get a job.  Or don't - but don't be shocked when you can't find a decent job in psychology or history.  There are too many other applicants out there that have the right training for the job I need filled today.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Online Learning: the good, the bad, the ugly

Bloomberg has a great article about the problems in the for-profit education industry really nailing Kaplan to the wall.  There is also an informative blog on the Quick and the Ed by Ben Miller with a discussion at the bottom by Trace Urdan.

At least the Bloomberg article has some balance - pointing out some people who lover their online degree program along with those where aggressive sales tactics put them in a program that was not right for them.

I have started hearing some of the graduation rates of online universities and the US DOE is right to start asking this question.  It is much lower than the industry average for all universities and must improve.  Drop outs hurt everyone - the student incurs debt without any of the benefit of the degree, the Government pays for nothing in a big way between Pell Grants, college loan defaults and GI Bill and it is wrong.

If schools have to measure and improve their graduation rates, they have to reduce the aggression in recruiting and make sure the person is right for the program. 

As for the 90/10 rules and the rules regarding the ability to repay loans - well that really needs to apply to ALL schools - not just online for-profits.  There are way too many kids graduating from private universities with a ton of debt and a useless degree and no hope of every paying it off.