Comparing Apples to Apples?

Long-time readers of this blog might remember my 2016 post about the death of for-profit universities in the USA, when an advisory panel recommended that the U.S. Department of Education terminate its recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS). This action would render the for-profits accredited by ACICS ineligible for federally-supplied student financial aid. Six years later, the Department of Education finally decided to terminate its recognition of ACICS. While many of the for-profits, like ITT Educational Services, have already gone bankrupt, there are still twenty-seven colleges and universities accredited by ACICS. Those schools have a year and a half to find a new accreditor or close.

How does this relate to me, current or hopeful future political science professor, you ask? While for-profits represent the bottom of the U.S. higher education barrel — institutions that rely on recruiting gullible students to spend money they don’t have on worthless credentials — there are many non-profit schools with similarly poor returns on investment. Do you work at one? If so, your employer’s future is not good. Eventually not enough potential students will be fooled enough of the time.

You can get a broad picture of where your employer stands in the higher ed marketplace by using College Scorecard to compare graduation and retention rates and typical alumni earnings against those of nearby competitors. If your institution’s numbers are at the bottom, you’ve got a problem.