Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"Have you worked with anything... high-tech?"



ITT Tech has closed. Here's a short summary from the Wall Street Journal:
A federal crackdown on for-profit colleges is cutting off a lifeline to the once high-flying industry as the second major school operator in recent years closed Tuesday, potentially leaving taxpayers on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in student loans. 
ITT Technical Institute, among the nation’s largest for-profit college chains by revenue, abruptly closed more than 130 campuses, forcing more than 40,000 students at campuses in 38 states to begin looking for another school after the government banned it from enrolling new students receiving federal aid. It follows last summer’s liquidation of Corinthian Colleges Inc. 
The for-profit college industry has shriveled in recent years, with enrollments of the largest chains plummeting by more than half in the past five years. The pullback came as the government clamped down on aggressive recruiting practices and stricter policies intended to ensure that schools are preparing students for gainful employment.
The marketing for the school was always something that warned me away from it. I'm pretty sympathetic to its students, who will probably have a difficult time transferring to another institution. But, thanks to YouTube, we'll always have its commercials, and its brutal depiction of the job market.

(How many universities, incidentally, could survive without access to federal student loans? Something tells me the number is small.) 

12 comments:

  1. if public universities did an ample job for a decent price, there would be no need for these for-profit schools

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    1. Maybe they could if we, you know, actually funded them (link in handle)

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    2. I'd happily donate money to fund them if it didn't all go to an army of Vice Provosts, Associate Deans, and Assistant Chancellors, while the teaching is all done by temporary adjuncts to make sure there's enough money left for said army!

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  2. I find it very difficult to feel sorry for anyone stuck in the middle of this. Any student who can read or use Google would know that the "credits" from this degree mills are non-transferable. In higher education, this is something we call "a clue".

    As for the ACICS, this outfit lost credibility a long time ago. DOE was asleep at the switch (as usual) allowing our tax dollars to go down the drain.

    Plenty of stupid to go around, I'm afraid.

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  3. Universities would probably have a hard time but (mostly) would survive. Lots are diversified - research and teaching. They also rely some on alumni and others, which helps remove the temptation to take the federal money and run like ITT did - if the degree is worthless, there won't be many alumni donating money to old alma mater. Lots of the behaviors that made ITT what it is aren't necessarily present in most other universities.

    On the other hand, a large bureaucracy tends to look after itself to the exclusion of its (nominal) purposes, and if they could run enough ads and interference and a good sports team or two, they might be able to work themselves far down the path to oblivion before someone in power realizes what's happened, and if you lose the ability to accept Federal loans then, you'd be screwed. There's plenty of short-sighted people willing to sell tomorrow for today, and enough people willing to let them out of inattention or for a cut.

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    1. Hap I am sorry but IMO in the majority of Universities, Public and Private, the actions appear to be geared to "take the federal money and run like ITT did" to support things besides primarily providing sound education and platform for cutting edge research. Monies from alumni and endowment funds often get directed to prop up the symbols of "greatness" either in fancy new buildings or for named chairs to attract (steal) profs from other institutions therefore ignore potential impact to students learning while at the school with prep for real world (gainful employment often not assured except for elite/connected individuals). Heck most Unis can't decide if they are really about "teaching" or "research" because it is a rare combination of institution/professor who can do both those missions at a high level so in the end both suffer.
      The real questions are does every single person actually require and deserve a college level education then indeed is the current system adequate to equipping students via strong classroom, lab/research and practical collaborative opportunities. I think the systematic failures probably begin before college where momentum seems to be to push everyone along up to and even through college with very little attention if they are truly learning what they need for certain fields or more so how to learn and adapt the knowledge acquired to particular or new situations.

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    2. Educational PhilosophySeptember 8, 2016 at 12:44 PM

      Is college a vocational school, or is it a place for learning/knowledge without specific goals in mind beyond increasing our own understanding? Not picking one over the other, just curious what people's thoughts are.

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    3. I don't know if it's a failure of colleges or employers. Employers want lots of shiny new knowledge, cheap, and when it's used up, bye! That set of priorities doesn't encourage schools to teach a broad background of fundamental, adaptable skills - if they do (and don't have a big name to go with it), their grads won't get jobs. It's also hard to see if you've taught students to think rather than know stuff.

      The problem is that we don't really value non-knowledge positions, so if you are ill-suited for college, you have to go (or try) or otherwise, your probability of finding something decent is pretty low. If we were less concerned with schools creating employable people, then the benefits of college might be pretty general, so that even if it wouldn't help you find an appropriate job, it might help you find other things that could be a better person and citizen.

      I don't think my opinion of universities is high right now, but I think most businesses are playing for the short-term, anyway - they don't care about mission or duty, it's time to get the money and get out. It's not so surprising that they'd get in on the gig.

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    4. I hope university is a place of knowledge and not a trade school, but that's maybe idealistic. Who knows, maybe some school will introduce an 'Applied History' program?

      I recall t-shirts from my UG school that said "____ University, winter camp for overpriviledged kids" and it was kinda true. I thought UG, and even grad school, was a fun place to dabble in the 'real world' in a pretty cucooned environment (nowadays there are even 'safe spaces', trigger warnings, and---I find hilariously---microagressions) without having the stress of the workaday world that inevitably most people (save most academicians) have to graduate to. Maybe it's unfair that not everyone gets a real chance to experience this, but I'm quite glad I did.

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    5. That's just the thing--there should be opportunities for trade schools as well. Did you know 70% of Americans don't have college degrees?

      I always heard good things about the German technical education system (a parallel not a college drop-out), but that only works if there is demand for technical employment, not a demand for outsourcing et al.

      Not sure where this leaves the growing (online) purveyors of programming/coding education. I guess a lot of them are free, at least to start.

      It is a shame because ITT students (like us!) have heard that STEM is useful, but either couldn't get it to pay for itself. That may not have been entirely the fault of the school.

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  4. Was the failure in the education delivered, or that the STEM jobs have disappeared? Same outcome.

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    1. It's hard to tell - if you have no long-term employees, then getting technical skills now from your employees is all that matters. In that case, you can't tell whether the school taught them poorly or whether they learned stuff correctly but were discarded because their bosses needed toilet paper and didn't care that it was parchment.

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