It’s been said before that scandals sell newspapers. However, the negative headlines are not always deserved. Taken collectively, they paint a highly unflattering and unfair portrayal of the sector that is certainly prejudicial to the unfamiliar. With that in mind, we thought it would be worthwhile to highlight a few of the many proprietary colleges that, through their exceptional academic programs, strong graduation outcomes, and robust career placement track records, challenge popular opinion about proprietary institutions. They’re just not garnering press coverage for doing so.

First up: Monroe College. The depth and breadth of its academic offerings and its graduation and job placement outcomes sufficiently demonstrate to an impartial observer that this is an institution that does not belong in Washington’s crosshairs.

Founded in 1933, New York-based Monroe College is a nationally ranked private institution of higher learning with a “real world” learning approach that prioritizes hands-on academic experiences, practical and relevant academic programs, flexible learning schedules, and committed and engaged faculty who ensure that students are well positioned for career success upon graduation. It offers Certificate, Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degree programs and has campuses in the Bronx, New Rochelle, as well as in the Caribbean nation of St. Lucia. Programs are offered through its Schools of Criminal Justice, Information Technology, Nursing, Education, Business & Accounting, Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts, and Allied Health Professions, as well as through select other programs, and its King Graduate School. Monroe College looks and operates like a traditional college.

In fact, New York State requires proprietary colleges offering degree programs to adhere to the same rigorous regulatory oversight and accreditation standards as the state’s non-profit colleges and universities. Monroe College, for example, is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which also oversees accreditation for American University, Princeton University, Rutgers University, and New York University (NYU), among numerous other well-respected institutions in the region. As well, Monroe College’s ability to offer its certificate and degree programs is subject to authorization by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York, well-recognized in the academic community as one of the nation’s most rigorous oversight bodies, and Monroe’s curricula are registered by the New York State Education Department.

How does that translate into program completion rates? Well, Monroe College graduates approximately 80 students for every one that graduates from the two neighboring community colleges. Indeed, U.S. News & World Report released a study that found Monroe College’s graduation rates are far and away higher than what should be expected of a school with similar demographics. Monroe’s 2012 actual six-year graduation rate was 65 percent, nearly 40 percentage points higher than the rate predicted by the publication (see here for details). The magazine also ranked Monroe’s online bachelor’s degree program among the top three in New York state, with tuition that is one-quarter the cost of its rivals (see here for details), and in September 2013 it recognized Monroe College as the most affordable ranked private college in New York State.

Given that Gainful Employment centers on issues of debt management and responsible student loan lending, it is important to note that in 2012, Monroe College won a USA Funds Award for Excellence in Debt Management. The College was recognized for developing its Debt Reduction, Education, Assessment & Management (DREAM) project, which gives its graduates the skills to manage both their personal and educational finances. The DREAM project educates students through peer financial advising, early intervention loan counseling and education, and enhanced staffing of its Office of Loan Management, among other efforts to improve student financial literacy. You can read more about it here.

The term “proprietary” does not define Monroe College. Monroe College is just one example of many, many others producing good outcomes for their students and local communities that we will be telling you about in this blog over the weeks ahead.