Lion of the Blogosphere

College, part 7: why do for-profit colleges suck so bad?

A lot of conservative types reflexively support for-profit colleges, because everyone (on that side of politics) “knows” that the free market is always best! Despite the empirical evidence that for-profit colleges are a big scam.

For starters, it’s wrong to think that there’s no competition between colleges just because they are not-for-profit. Just like for-profit colleges, the nonprofit colleges have stakeholders, and management trying to increase value for the stakeholders, with value measured in prestige and the size of the college’s endowment, as well as some other measures.

Thus we see that for-profit colleges are coming into a market where there is a lot of competition from long established competitors with huge brand reputations that are impossible to crack. It’s more likely for a new business in the beverage industry to supplant Coke and Pepsi than it is for a new business in the college industry to supplant Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

There’s very little profit in providing a product that’s a good value to the customer. It’s a lot more profitable to sell something overpriced. As often as competition causes prices to decrease, competition can also cause prices to increase, because competing companies need to spend a lot of money on marketing to win customers from the competition, and then those marketing costs are passed on to customers in the form of higher prices.

For-profit colleges have to compete against publicly funded colleges that charge a reasonable tuition. It seems like a rather unobtainable dream that a company is going to make a lot of money in education by providing lower tuition than state schools but at the same time providing a better degree. Nope, it makes a lot more sense for the for-profit enterprise to offer a crappy education, and sucker in stupid people with advertising and using high-pressure salespeople, and then relying on the fact that the stupid people are paying with government loans and lack the future-time-orientation to realize that those government loans are real money they have to pay back later. The true entrepreneurial nature of the for-profit college is its innovation in making it as enticing and as easy as possible for stupid people to take out student loans and enroll. Whereas, the typical nonprofit college has an obtuse enrollment process and probably doesn’t advertise.

The Obama administration introduced some smart policies to crack down on giving away student loans to students attending crappy for-profit colleges, but that moron Betsy DeVos has reversed a lot of the good that came from Obama.

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

January 30, 2019 at 12:58 PM

Posted in Business, Education

50 Responses

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  1. Who says non-profit colleges don’t “suck so bad”?

    Is there an agreed-upon objective metric of “suck so bad”?


    January 30, 2019 at 1:03 PM

    • I don’t really disagree that for-profit colleges are a scam. But so are non-profits for a lot of people. The people who get scammed out of their money at a for profit college would’ve got scammed out of their money at a non-for profit. If you are not in a real major, college is a scam, period. You might be able to get away with a not real major if you’re at an ivy, are naturally smart, and your parents are connect, but if you go to a regular school, do not major in poetry.


      January 30, 2019 at 2:07 PM

      • Poetry major? can you point to any school that have Poetry major? Did you just invent it?

        My 2¢

        January 30, 2019 at 7:10 PM

      • Google “Poetry major.” It wasn’t an all inclusive list.


        January 31, 2019 at 12:02 PM

    • I was going to ask that, but I’m glad you did instead of me. Coming from you, that question doesn’t come across as “spergy” as it would from me. So, thanks.


      January 30, 2019 at 2:22 PM

      • “I was going to ask that, but I’m glad you did instead of me. Coming from you, that question doesn’t come across as “spergy” as it would from me. So, thanks.”

        I feel like this is a place where everything you say stands on its own or doesn’t; not somewhere where people react to who you are rather than the content of your message.


        January 30, 2019 at 3:29 PM

      • On some message boards, it’s common to be called “spergy” when asking for data to back up a claim, or when making a post that isn’t reliant on social proof.


        January 30, 2019 at 6:49 PM

      • If you were addressing me, thank you.

        If not, thank you anyway.

        The question still stands.

        I know what Lion means by for profit and non-profit colleges, let’s not be “spergy” but honestly, I don’t see the difference between them except for prestige. Which matters. I get that. But in reality?


        January 30, 2019 at 4:13 PM

      • I was addressing you. I’ve been hesitant lately to ask questions like you did because I don’t feel the need to be dismissed as a ‘sperg. Message boards have become echo chambers where people are simply expected to give thumbs up and not debate issues, or God forbid, ask for data like a virgin poindexter


        January 30, 2019 at 6:54 PM

      • “virgin poindexter”


        Don’t be scared. This is just an internet forum. I used to be scared because I thought that insults & sharp responses would hurt my feelz. They did and I got used to it. I survived internet bashing!


        January 31, 2019 at 11:44 AM

  2. For profit schools serve one specific demographic (prole types) who believe that education is purely vocational which would lead to a good paying job. You can’t blame their business model entirely.

    Ok, what, who's this again?

    January 30, 2019 at 3:43 PM

    • The local cc is a better deal.

      The media is truth

      January 30, 2019 at 6:15 PM

      • It also has counciling services that constantly point out what one needs to do in order to succeed. It will also kick you out if you don’t get a handle on the basics. There is no incentive to council in this manner if profit is the prime motivator.

        School has always been about building society and shaping people. Profit is a business thing and should be viewed that way. They can coexist, but learning must take precedence.

        The media is truth

        January 30, 2019 at 6:29 PM

    • These people are also not informed consumers. To them college is college. Military types are especially prone to this. They had no choice about which high school they went to, then the military sent them to training classes that were part of a different educational culture.

      The high ranking enlisted men are pretty competent. They’re held back in the civilian world by their lack of upper middle class acculturation. A real college might be able to help them with that. Or maybe not. Maybe they’re too literally minded and procedural.

      For a fair number of them, people management is one of their major skills, and they’re shooting themselves in the foot with a for-profit degree on their resumes.


      January 31, 2019 at 10:57 AM

      • I’ve known high ranking enlisted men who got into corporate, but none of them had for-profit degrees.

        Their weak point is usually their inability to dissemble in the *expected* way. They can bullshit around, but it’s not the right bullshit.

        Monsieur le Baron

        January 31, 2019 at 1:47 PM

  3. Communist/socialist countries are more successful in getting economy developed quickly for the same reason (you do not drain profit out all the time). Most of current world got industrialized using it: most of Europe, most of Asia, substantial part of Latin America) Non-profit colleges effectively reinvest their profits.

    My 2¢

    January 30, 2019 at 3:53 PM

  4. I’ve taught at for-profits and mentioned my experiences in these comments. It’s a wonder anyone attends as the state of California offers high quality college education. Yes, the students are proles, but they’re also mostly minorities. I will say there were a few extremely bright white students, but they were home-schooled, and terribly weird. At least two of them finished and went on to high paying jobs (one in DC in IT, the other in Germany for the NSA).

    For-profits charge ridiculous prices, and part of the sell is that you can get your degree FASTER. The person who worked in sales once explained, “We’re selling a dream.”

    In terms of education, the main difference is that an instructor at a real college can do pretty much whatever s/he wants. If I want to have exams, essays, whatever, I’m the “expert,” and so I get to decide. This is weird because while someone can be a subject matter expert, the vast majority of us do not have any training in pedagogy.

    At the for-profit, all of your classes are subjected to student evaluations. In the California state education system, classes are, in my experience, rarely evaluated. Professors are given free reign. A gay male student complained about students (and myself) making “sexist” comments in class. The dean sighed and wished he could ignore the bullshit complaint, but the student made it through a particular portal so there was a paper trail. At a for-profit, the vast majority of students would never “rat” out a professor for sexism or racism… or almost anything.

    A for-profit has McDonalds-like standardization, so there are these awful mandatory assignments. The trouble with these assignments is that they often have nothing to do with the lecture or the (assigned) textbook. The students do not read the textbook, and try not to buy it. One example from an American Government class is “Working in a group, create a country with your own Constitution. Give your country a name, and think about X, Y, Z issues.” Fucking retarded.

    In my regular classes, I pretty much just assign readings, and then hold students accountable with quizzes. When they’re not being quizzed, we’ll have lectures and discussions, then two exams, which constitute 75% of their overall grade. Exams draw on the books, lectures, and discussions. The quizzes and exams compel students to (usually) do the readings and attend the lectures. I only take attendance on the first day of class.

    At the for-profits, attendance must be taken at every session because the class meets for the minimum number of hours. Depending on the institution, sometimes there’s a culture of letting out early. For the state universities and community colleges, I am free to cancel a class whenever I feel like it. Some ask that I apprise a dean, others give free reign. If I am unable to make it to a for-profit, they will find someone else to fill in. If the class did fail to meet, it would need to make up the missed session.

    For-profits keep students happy by offering “free” pop-corn and other treats. The staff know your name. At the state schools, over-compensated staffers can be genuinely cheerful and outgoing — or crabby assholes who know they’re un-fireable. Staffers at for-profits would LOVE to get one of these cushy make-work administrative jobs with fantastic benefits and sane hours.


    January 30, 2019 at 7:29 PM

    • A friend of my from college teaches at a for-profit. The students as you say, are minorities. His for-profit is not franchised, so he gets to make whatever curriculum he wants (as he would at college-college).

      He’s got a PhD in his field, and some publications. He’s supposed to be adding legitimacy to the school, so that students see it as competing with the local state-school. Management wants him to keep publishing, and do community outreach education stuff that he did before, just while wearing the polo shirt from the for-profit.


      January 31, 2019 at 11:33 AM

  5. all formal education is a scam. it’s left over from a time when books were written by hand on sheep skin and thus were so expensive they were chained to their shelves.

    formal education is a great example institutional inertia. humans conform to their institutions (or don’t). they don’t choose them. this is because the people at the top of institutions are all true believers. to put it another way, the pope couldn’t be a secret free mason or a muslim. and the roman church is another example. the western roman empire died in the 5th c. yet it lives on in the roman church.

    the only legitimate classroom education is in laboratories, where the apparatus and materials are too expensive for each student to have his own.

    lolbertarians will blame tuition inflation on student loans. that is part of it for sure, but credentials is the primary means of social mobility in the US. so ending loans might mean and even more rigidly stratified society. of co

    is the pope catholic?

    January 30, 2019 at 8:15 PM

  6. 1) Lion is right that for-profit colleges are scams and suck. They are ghetto, prole at best.

    2) Regular colleges, if a student gets a useless degree, are a scam and sucks.

    3) Even if for-profits offered a valuable education, it wouldn’t really matter. As Lion said, college is positional good so an average student from a name college is better off than a smarty from some ITT Tech.

    4) Colleges should be BARRED from offering sundry humanities majors that have no future work application. Colleges shouldn’t become vocational schools per se, but they should just be science, medicine, law, some business/econ, and that’s about it.

    5) There should be a class action law-suit from all the psychology/philosophy/anthro majors who are in debt and can’t make jack squat money.


    January 30, 2019 at 8:32 PM

    • ‘4) Colleges should be BARRED from offering sundry humanities majors that have no future work application. Colleges shouldn’t become vocational schools per se, but they should just be science, medicine, law, some business/econ, and that’s about it.’

      The civilization will die. Fix the scam, instead of destroying humanities.


      January 31, 2019 at 10:52 AM

      • A lot of Japanese universities are no longer allowed to offer humanities.


        January 31, 2019 at 11:47 AM

    • lolol… Great conversation. I think colleges should:
      * drop grievance studies courses.
      * have a small mandatory gen-ed curriculum in classical humanities
      * cut the number of open slots for students to study worthless crud.

      Sociology, psychology, drama, etc. should still exist as majors, but they should be hard to get into. Communications can just be dropped outright.


      January 31, 2019 at 11:42 AM

    • I really wish my entire non-STEM college coursework had been economic history. Imagine if you emerged at 22 knowing how money and credit have evolved over the last 400 years.

      Department 11

      January 31, 2019 at 12:02 PM

    • “Colleges should be BARRED from offering sundry humanities majors that have no future work application. Colleges shouldn’t become vocational schools per se, but they should just be science, medicine, law, some business/econ, and that’s about it.”

      I would disagree with that. Humanities majors have their place. But we shouldn’t be subsidizing them with student loans. If we’re going to have a student loan program, they should be limited to STEM or vocational majors. Humanities did just fine in the days before student loans so they can survive again (with about 80% of their worthless faculty laid off).

      Mike Street Station

      February 2, 2019 at 8:44 AM

  7. I really don’t know what the hell you mates are talking about. If you have a trade,you are in demand. You don’t need to worry about having a job ever. Even the Talmud says it. Just got a no heat call from someone, but not gonna go at this hour and weather. Could have made a few hundred dollars, but I would much rather study Portuguese and other things that I like in my warm crib tonight. He ain’t gonna get anyone now. I will do it tommorow morning probably and for the same money. Basically ,you can write your own ticket at times like this. I’m billing $125 an hour for service and $150 in Manhattan. Low for an attorney, but not bad for IT and about what a good shrinks take.

    To go to a university to gain knowledge? Sure! But to be whore for years to acquire some positional gooda? Lol! There is something wrong with you, mates. I’m telling you.

    Here is the gig, check this out. A package unit is $4,000, crane $500, total cost $9,500 so far. The guy is still nicking and diming, but it looks pretty solid. What else? A new disconnect and gas line? I’m left with $4,000. $1,000 to the guy, who gave me the job because he was going to Florida. I’m left with $3,000. What’s the job, mates? Disconnect and reconnect the duct, replace the lectrical disconnect, replace the old gas line connection? How long? OK, make it one day already. And I do the whole thing by myself.

    Positional goods, my foot!

    This prole is a total riot! He is an excellent HVAC tech and he says like this: ‘Look, a doctor studies for how long? 10 years, right? And makes how much? Say, $250,000, right? I have 15 years of expirience, right? So how am I not the same as a doctor? Can he do what I can? No! So why can’t I bill him what he bills me?’

    Positional goods, my foot!

    I say, do the French Foreign Legion and see the world, then learn a trade. Now that you can stand and maybe even walk on your 2 feet go study whatever your heart desires, if not, you are ready for life. Under no circumstances are you to be anyone’s bitch. Ever!


    January 30, 2019 at 9:52 PM

    • Provided you are good at running your own business and have lots of energy, yes. If you hired an employee to work with you, he would not clear anywhere near what you as a successful small businessman can in a year. Also, you will never have one day in your life where sit at your desk and blog while expecting to collect a steady paycheck.

      The guy who installed my gun safe learned the trade from his father. He was VERY working class. When my wife saw him getting out of his Mercedes, she was instantly struck by the contrast between the car and the driver. Even though he has more money than me, he would have to COMPLETELY remake the way he dresses, grooms, and carries himself in order to be able to approach a woman who spent as many years in higher education as my wife did.

      I’m not bashing you. I’m an American. I respect you. You are the force that our national mythology tells us created this country. I’m just saying that what you do should not be regarded as the easy way through life.


      January 31, 2019 at 1:05 PM

  8. Some people would be best served with a liberal arts education.

    Other people would be best served with a vocational education.

    Is there something I’m missing? Other than the whole “SWPL good/prole bad” thing?


    January 30, 2019 at 10:59 PM

  9. They’re simply a scam to profit off of federally-funded student loans. The school gets paid up front, the students get debt, and then taxpayers are left holding the bag when the loan defaults.

    Nothing “free market” about that.

    Blue Tribe Dissident

    January 30, 2019 at 11:06 PM

    • Notice that all benefit: student, college, loan company, and government bureaucracy. Those who lose are taxpayers. The student benefits because he can fund his room and board for few years, with no plans to repay anything.

      My 2c

      January 31, 2019 at 12:14 AM

  10. Education, military, wall street, medicine, government are a scam. So what isn’t a scam? Looks like the whole life is a scam. We should just enjoy what’s left if it.


    January 31, 2019 at 9:29 AM

    • wah, wah, wah, and trades are not a scam.

      We have so much fake-make work in the country. Where does the money to pay the workers come from?

      Ok, what, who's this again?

      January 31, 2019 at 10:31 AM

      • It’s created by the banks, by making a note in their balance sheet that someone owes them for that mortgage, commercial loan, etc, then making the funds available electronically as a deposit. Either that or it’s created by the federal reserve, and used to buy some treasury bonds out of the market.

        In other words, it’s made up and controlled by bankers who pay attention to things like prevailing interest rates, inflation, credit risk, and what their banker bosses say. If you want to have a lot of money in this life, you have to be close to those bankers, or maybe be one.

        People want to know how to get rich. I will tell you how. People get rich because they get closer to the money fountain. Our society has a money fountain in its center. Money comes out, usually somewhere in New York, or DC, and flows outward. Labor and lifeblood flow inward to the center, following the money river back upstream.

        The wealthiest are those who live closest to the center, and have access to the money river before it separates into rivulets and disperses into the periphery. The closer to the center you are, the more money you can have, the more labor and lifeblood comes back to you from the outer rings. If you want to be rich then you have to get close to the center, one way or another.


        January 31, 2019 at 11:47 AM

      • That’s government. But trades are scams, sure.


        January 31, 2019 at 11:47 AM

      • In life you wanna be close to the fountain of happiness, or at least that’s what I think, and where is that? You need to ask yourself this question.

        When was I happy in my 60 years on this earth? When I was boxing and running cross-country, learning in the Yeshiva and bringing up my kids after the divorce. Money doesn’t play a very important function in my life. That what I’m doing now working for myself: sports, study of all the things I wanted to know for a long time, and kids and grandkids. I got all the status that I need and enough money for my status, lol.

        The future doesn’t look bright for the younger generation though. I don’t know what advantage they can have over my generation of 40 years ago.

        This is so funny! A bunch of phonies with phony degrees sitting around and thinking that they have status. Most probably wouldn’t even get into the French Foreign Legion. And they have status? This is just too funny. Look, I treat everybody with respect, but status is just one thing that these phonies don’t have.


        January 31, 2019 at 12:59 PM

      • “That’s government. But trades are scams, sure.”

        I think the problem with the trades is that they’re *NOT* a scam.


        January 31, 2019 at 1:31 PM

      • I don’t know where the happiness fountain is. I expect it is somewhere in the countryside. Problem is there are no jobs out there, and not many young women either. It’s a problem.


        January 31, 2019 at 2:12 PM

      • I was just watching this video again:

        The documentary filmmaker (and most people subconsciously) don’t understand SWPL segregation, HBD, and why most blacks could never live on Park Avenue in Manhattan, instead are regulated to public housing projects on the other side of Park Avenue in the South Bronx.

        The stark difference between stupid and smart is more inherent of America than the one between poor and rich.

        Ok, what, who's this again?

        February 1, 2019 at 7:21 PM

    • It’s really inside you, but the external circumstances help somewhat.


      January 31, 2019 at 3:37 PM

  11. Hey Lion, what does a NYC dentist charge for a cleaning? I just came from one in SF, where I thnk I’m paying too much. Probably why my dentist talks my ear off, seeing me as a sap.


    January 31, 2019 at 12:12 PM

    • You can get a cleaning from an undocumented dentist for $25. What did you pay?


      January 31, 2019 at 1:32 PM

      • Lasr time, with xrays, $325, this time no xrays, don’t know yet.


        January 31, 2019 at 2:08 PM

      • Is this a periodontist or a regular chap? My Tajik got full dentures for under $2,000 from an unlicensed Russian dentist. You gotta shop around, mate.


        January 31, 2019 at 3:04 PM

      • i got my teeth cleaned by a russian. no kidding. thick accent. and it was a dude.

        is the pope catholic?

        January 31, 2019 at 5:18 PM

    • Dental cleaning, brushing, and flossing are scams too. I went from brushing my teeth twice a day and flossing daily to brushing once a day and flossing every other day, about ten years ago. Nobody complained so far.

      My 2¢

      January 31, 2019 at 3:46 PM

    • what i KNOW is 99% of dentists are way too aggressive. they’re corrupt. the more they do the more they’re paid.

      there’s a range.

      one dentist says “root canal or extraction”. the next says “one drop of blood and root canal”. the third says “i’ll kill the dentin near the pulp and cover it with an anti-bacterial polymer + silver nano-particles, then fill on top.”

      like most things in the current fake economy, if you’re willing to have black teeth, you’ll never need a dentist.

      silver diamine flouride has made dentists obsolete.

      is the pope catholic?

      January 31, 2019 at 5:16 PM

  12. There are a couple private outfits turning out people with IT and “data scientist” skills that charge a percentage of your earnings over $70k for five years (or something like that) after you graduate. I haven’t looked into it but the consensus is they’re not scams and are actually getting people big pay bumps and good jobs.

    The entire problem is the federal loan subsidies and the non-dischargeability of the debt, not some complex social analysis. For profit colleges would be fine if people were fronting their own money, and could shed the debt in bankruptcy if necessary.


    January 31, 2019 at 4:05 PM

  13. There’s very little profit in providing a product that’s a good value to the customer.

    What about Lambda School?

    Dave Pinsen

    February 1, 2019 at 8:36 PM

  14. The answer is easy. Most of them are run by pro-government crooks who run them as bust-out operations in conjunction with far-left regulators. Now that a few were arrested they use the far-left trope of blaming capitalism for their sins.

    On the whole there is little difference academically between for-profits, state colleges, and non-profits on average, except the better for-profits and honors non-profits are cheaper, better, and more flexible to a degree allowed by regulations.

    The real issue is government regulation that has made near-free/low-cost, flexible colleges very hard to make happen, and give the far-left a bogus issue of ‘free education’ while mis-educating millions from their academic sinecures.

    The Old Libertarian

    February 1, 2019 at 11:27 PM

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