On a near daily basis, you can find stories in the mainstream media criticizing for-profit colleges, compounding misperceptions that they should all be judged by the misdeeds of some.

A recent article in the New York Daily News (“A N.Y. Success: For-Profit Colleges”), however, highlights something we have been trying to convey right here in this blog: that there is “more to the story” than the oft accepted “truth” that all for-profit colleges are “bad actors.” The News is certainly to be commended for avoiding the herd mentality and taking a more unbiased look at the role of for-profit colleges.

Judah Bellin, adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute, writes that there are many for-profit colleges that “offer a valuable educational alternative, especially for lower-income and minority students.”

Pointing to the New York State Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department’s stringent regulations and oversight, Mr. Bellin shows how many for-profit colleges in the state have done exceedingly well, yielding graduation rates that rival CUNY and SUNY’s. Furthermore, he adds:

“…the percentage of New York’s for-profit schools with three-year default rates below the national average and graduation rates above the national average is higher than that of other large states, such as Illinois, Texas and California, and neighboring states such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania.”

As we’ve consistently maintained (see here, here and here), New York State has one of the toughest regulatory environments in the nation, holding all colleges – including for-profits – to higher standards than one might find elsewhere. How refreshing it is to see an outside party acknowledge that this regulation is effective and leads to high-level outcomes.

Mr. Bellin even notes the demographic that for-profit colleges typically serve – “…older…minorities, female and financially independent” – and the role that plays, or should play, in developing policies that regulate the higher education sector.

That Mr. Bellin cites two of our very own member colleges – Berkeley College and Monroe College in the Bronx – as successful examples is the icing on the cake.

So, thank you, Mr. Bellin, for your thoughtful analysis – and for bringing a balanced perspective to an industry whose “bad actors” overshadow all the “good” that others provide.

As he astutely states in his conclusion: “Given the disparate needs of today’s college students, it’s a mistake to write off the for-profit college industry. As New York’s record shows, it can offer poor and minority students opportunities they’re hard-pressed to find elsewhere.”

We couldn’t agree more.

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