Trends in Higher Education & the Rise of the For-Profit University | Part III: A World of Difference

Alicia Locher | Academics Client Services

This past week, the Results blog has examined trends in higher education contributing to the rise of the for-profit university, it’s time to take a look at specific demographic differences that make the for-profit student different than the non-profit private or public university student and even the community college student.

If the media reports are true, the for-profit education industry has typically preyed on low-income minorities, but if our research is correct, while there are some “bad apples” in the mix, for-profits are meeting a need (See Yesterday’s Post) for an entirely different demographic than traditional four-year universities or even community college students.­

After years in the business of both for-profit and non-profit higher education lead generation, Mudd has acquired some insight into the differences between these two groups of students. Below are a few of the differentiators between for-profit and non-profit students.

1) Blue collar blood. Whereas traditional college students come largely from wealthy, white collar families, students at non-profits usually have low income and little or no discretionary income. They typically come from blue collar families.

2) Debt difficulty. Students looking to for-profits to meet their higher education needs often suffer from poor credit scores and other financial woes that make obtaining necessary loans at non-profits incredibly difficult.

3) Older and wiser. It is said that with age comes wisdom. The students at for-profits are not often straight out of high school but rather a mix of older, non-traditional students who are typically single parents. A higher percentage of nontraditional students live at home with their parents, though close to 40% of the students at for-profit institutions live with older adults.


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