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Is an online education worth it?
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Thirty-two percent of for-profit college alumni don’t think their education was worth it, and almost half believe their college was more interested in money than education, according to a Public Agenda survey. But almost 60 percent reported that their for-profit school did an “excellent” or “good” job preparing them for the workplace. One of the most important voices in the conversation, however, is the one that’s missing — their future employers.
A 2012 study by the U.S. Senate found that more than half of students at for-profit colleges fail to graduate and that the generally more expensive institutions spend more on marketing than teaching, prompting an investigation by the Department of Education.
Whatever the government decides, however, might be a moot point to aspiring graduates. Of course they want a great education, but they probably also want to be hired afterwards. Researchers from the University of Missouri, RAND Corporation and National Bureau of Economic Research set out to figure out what types of colleges rank the highest for employers.
So, what do employers think of for-profit colleges?
The researchers at University of Missouri and RAND sent out resumes with sub-baccalaureate qualifications — an associate’s degree, certificate or an indication of some or no college — and found no statistical difference in employer response to applicants from nonprofit, for-profit, or even no college at all.
However, when the National Bureau of Economic Research focused its study on undergraduate degrees, it found that “employers value bachelor’s degrees from public institutions more highly than they do those from large, online for-profit institutions.” Applicants with a bachelor’s in business are 22 percent more likely to be contacted if their degree is from a public university than an online for-profit, according to its research. Degrees from local for-profit colleges with physical locations perform similarly to ones from nonprofit, public colleges.
Of course, this is based on employer perspective — it doesn’t speak to the quality of education each institution provides. It does, however, give a glimpse into how employers perceive your education, which could end up being more important when you enter the job market.

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