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Are For-Profit Colleges the Answer for Black Students?

Posted: Sep 11, 2012

 Not all college educations are created equal. And as long as a university’s prestige has been associated with its exclusivity, the rungs of higher education have been racially stratified. Nowhere is this reality more clear than today, when the for-profit college giant the University of Phoenix, is graduating the most college graduates of color in the nation.

The fact, stunning as it is, reflects the changing landscape of higher education, where black, Latino and Native American students may be going to college in ever higher numbers, but are increasingly enrolling in an industry that’s come under harsh scrutiny for its business practices.

The for-profit schools of yore were once the sole domain of aspiring hairdressers and truck drivers and typists, people looking primarily for vocational training. Today, for-profit schools have muscled their way into the higher education landscape to serve a great many more education needs at a staggering rate. Folks looking to pick up a college degree, a master’s, even a doctorate, can do so from for-profit colleges.

The University of Phoenix opened its doors just under 50 years ago in 1976, but today it’s the largest institution of higher education in the nation. And despite federal regulations which have dampened enrollment numbers in the last year, it remains the top producer of African-American and combined student of color baccalaureates in the nation. In the 2010-2011 school year 5,393 students of color received college degrees from just the online division of the University of Phoenix, and 3,124 of those went to black students, according to a report by Victor Borden for “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.” Read more here. 

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