For-profit schools, especially those that are online, have seen a sudden boost in the number of enrollments ever since the pandemic struck. The flexibility offered by many for-profit education institutions explains this sudden rise. For-profit schools also boast wide-ranging academic programs that are attractive to many workers that have recently lost their jobs and are looking for a career change or to college students whose campuses have closed.
Most for-profit colleges have substantial cash reserves that allow them to pump funds into tuition discounts at a period during which many public universities and non-profit colleges are seeing their budgets disintegrate without any of the state or federal support that they have become accustomed to.
But first, what’s the difference between for-profit colleges and non-profit ones?
What sets for-profit universities and colleges apart from non-profit ones is that while all are higher education institutions that cost money, a for-profit college is also a corporation or business that has shareholders. And just like most businesses, profit is the name of the game.
For-profit universities and colleges sell a product (education) with the main goal of generating a profit for their stakeholders. For-profit institutions fall under 2 broad categories mainly:
- 4-year colleges – These types of for profit-schools offer an associate or bachelor’s degree. However, you’ll find that most for-profit 4 year colleges specialize in different fields such as nursing, finance, or tech-related courses.
- Vocational colleges – These kinds of for-profit schools provide vocational education and training that prepared students to then become licensed HVAC repair specialists, hairdressers and beauty professionals, dental hygienists, and specialized courses of that nature.
Non-profit colleges and universities, on the other hand, are usually managed by a board of trustees. Because there are no shareholders expecting returns on their investments, non-profit schools are characteristically more capable of focusing on the students’ interests rather than solely generating a profit. Nonprofit schools are usually public or private.
Public non-profit schools and universities receive funding from the federal government and their individual state government. This is what allows them to charge lower tuition fees compared to for-profit schools. Some of the funds awarded are so directed to research, curriculum design, as well as other activities designed to support student and faculty growth.
Private non-profit colleges, on the other hand, are very similar to profit colleges. However, they don’t receive funding from the government, which is why so many charge higher fees compared to public non-profit colleges.
So are for-profit colleges worth the investment?
For-Profit Colleges are Flexible
For-profit colleges are typically the number one choice for students that need to learn while accommodating full-time day jobs or responsibilities such as parenthood. More and more for-profit colleges are offering night and daytime classes in an online or hybrid format.
That explains why for-profit colleges have blown up in popularity during the pandemic. They allow the students to continue pursuing their education uninterrupted. Another way in which for-profit schools are flexible is in their enrollment requirements.
Unlike non-profit schools that require students to sit for SAT and ACT entrance exams in order to qualify for courses, most non-profits especially vocational ones only require a high school diploma or GED. Those who are accepted can then choose to venture into higher associate degrees after completing their studies.
For-Profit Colleges are Attractive
Students that still need to work full-time jobs or care for their families may not necessarily have the time to attend a 4-year college, which is why they turn to for-profit schools with shorter semesters. Nontraditional students also prefer for-profit schools because they offer a myriad of class settings and formats, whether that means sitting for online or hybrid classes during evenings or even weekends.
Furthermore, each of the different campuses can be scattered all over the country to offer more convenience. That’s an ideal scenario for students that need to meld studying with their busy schedules.
For-profit universities are known to build partnerships with prospective employers. They build a camaraderie with local businesses and organizations that then allows students to land internships and positions that will help them gain entry into their various careers. In comparison, most traditional universities do not offer such incentives when it comes to job assistance.
Since many for-profit institutions have deep financial pockets at their disposal, many can enhance their job assistance services that allow their graduates to secure gainful employment faster.
For-Profit Schools Offer Greater Course Variety
For-profit schools are always looking out for the next big thing. This is what allows them to continually expand into growing or burgeoning fields such as VR and AI while also eliminating courses that students no longer find useful or attractive. Alternatively, traditional non-profit universities tend to be much slower at adopting new courses and technologies and opt to offer low-demand courses that are not necessarily attractive to young students.
By keeping up with future job trends, for-profit universities can appeal to a fresher crowd of students with more modern courses that wouldn’t otherwise be available at traditional institutions. What’s so great about such courses is that they are not tied to traditional rules that state that students can only graduate after they’ve spent x number of hours or x number of units before graduating. Instead, students graduate once they’ve demonstrated their mastery of the subject matter and gained the skills required to secure a job.
What’s the Best Option for You?
There isn’t one right answer as to which college, for-profit or nonprofit is best. It’s simply a matter of which institution of more suited to your needs. When looking for which university to attend, conduct your own in-depth research so that you can make a well-informed decision.
More than anything, always ensure that whichever institution you pick is accredited which will guarantee high academic standards that you deserve. Picking the right college for your needs will establish a great foundation for your future success so give the process the seriousness it deserves.