For-profit education?

Seems like an oxymoron to me…

However, on Wednesday, I went to Laura Palmer Noone‘s lecture called Postcards from the Edge. Dr. Palmer was the president of the University of Phoenix – the largest university in the United States.

I went in not buying her argument – but she kind of made me start thinking about the availability and accessibility of education in the country.

The demographics of students in America are changing. More diverse. More challenged – the “average” student is no longer a 18-22 year old who is getting funds from their parents. The new normal? Full-part time working students, single parents, first generation collegiate, immigrants, etc.

(photo credit: richard lee)

There’s a prediction that says by 2050 – minorities will constitute the majority. What do we do to prepare the increasing amount of these students? It’s unrealistic to say that the increasing amounts of people wanting a specialized collegiate education should go to an elite private or public institution, but it is a reality that they will need some form of education. Why?

After all, there are tons of people out there without a college education and are starting businesses of their own – doing rather well, in fact.

Sure, that’s the case now. But along with the demographics, the work force is also changing. By 2018 – 63% of the nation’s jobs will require post-secondary education. And currently, the percentage of the demographic that is attaining post-secondary education is 39%. That’s a 24% gap to reach in 7 years.

Are for-profit institutions the answer?

Perhaps.

I’m not going to say it in certainty – because even Dr. Noone acknowledged that for-profits are not meant to replace non-profit educational systems. But that 24% gap is alarming, and if the economy is to get any better, it’s not Wall Street, it’s the demographic and how we accommodate the demographic that’s going to need to change.

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