• October 25, 2014

For-Profit Colleges Serve Disadvantaged Students

To the Editor:

In his "Innovations" blog post on the trend in student demographics at for-profit schools ("Who Goes to For-Profit Colleges?," The Chronicle, June 27), Frank Donoghue fails to mention a third explanation for the level of participation by socioeconomically disadvantaged students: the U.S. has established a high rate of postsecondary education attainment as a public priority, which means admitting and serving students who do not necessarily fit into the traditional model of higher education, including the elite schools mentioned in The Chronicle.

That decision has a number of implications. For example, high attainment rates and high institutional graduation rates are not necessarily compatible; institutions that apply a high emphasis on graduation rates will undoubtedly limit access and become more selective in admissions.

Additionally, "more-selective admissions" may lead to provocative assumptions, such as the notion that objective, fair, and consistent standards for admission can be developed effectively by elected officials at the state or federal level. Or that a government employee can fairly, objectively, and effectively apply those admissions standards in a manner that does not deny access to disadvantaged individuals who have potential to benefit from postsecondary education.

So who goes to for-profit colleges? Institutions accredited by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools proudly serve more than 880,000 students who deserve access to the type of technical, professional, and applied skills training that will help them excel in a competitive work force.

Albert C. Gray
Executive Director and CEO
Accrediting Council for Independent College and Schools
Washington

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