Regulations Affecting Rationale and Revenue
I love education sales. There is nothing more gratifying than speaking with someone who genuinely is looking to better their life, having them “paint the picture” of their future, and knowing that by referring them to a degree program, you are ‘bettering’ the chances that they will get a job in the future.
For a decade I’ve been doing this, whether it be directly selling, building education businesses, call centers, training, or marketing programs. The past week I launched another business and I’ve been “back on the phones” as I don’t believe in “starting” a business without knowing your consumer. The students that I’ve spoken to have been of the highest quality and caliber I’ve ever driven to a call center; direct from television, no incentives, no discussion about money. Prospective students calling in solely because they are trying to better themselves.
And having a database of thousands of schools to refer students to used to be fantastic. I know the schools, how they work, and I know they do help people. That said, this week something has been different. While I know I am doing the ‘right’ thing by referring students to certain schools – there has been a hesitation to refer many of them. So, instead of turning them into revenue, whether it be by referring them to a school or even enrolling them myself, I’ve been searching for them. When a student calls in and says they want to go back to school online – I end up googling for community colleges near the students that have “distance learning” or “online programs” in their area. I’ve been explaining to students that there are numerous options, giving them the info about the for profit online universities, and then also giving them the information about the community colleges in their area…along with a recommendation that if the community colleges do offer the programs they are looking for, this is the “way to go” as it is less expensive and can be transferred into a bachelors degree program.
As I am fully aware of the value and quality of the online for profit programs; typically the teacher quality and curriculum is ‘better’ than a community college, I’m also flashing back on the loan repayment rates; or I should say, the lack of loan repayment rates. Over 80% of students going to school online are now in debt and about 50% of them are in default. I can’t get the picture out of my head of the spreadsheet I was given with those numbers.
While I have been perturbed with the increasing bad publicity surrounding the for profit universities; I’m seeing how it can affect those of us who believe in and support online for profit higher education. Data is data; numbers are numbers; and if someone like myself, a revenue driver to the core, is making the decision to send students to community college (if available), what will happen everywhere else?
I was lucky enough to be trained at the for profit university and I was trained to do “what is in the best interest of the student”. I was taught, “Enroll the ‘right student’, in the ‘right program’, at the ‘right time'”. We always asked if a student had a local community college that offered online education if the student needed their Associate degree. I wonder…if the online for profit colleges partnered and shared their model with the for profits for Associate degrees; and offered the matriculation into the Bachelors programs at their universities – would this be sustainable? I believe so and I believe it would be a “win/win”.
Less Revenue for the for profit school in the short term, but a higher net tuition revenue per student in the long term. Students enrolling with associate degrees AND students that have had online education experience have a higher likelihood of graduation – therefor decreasing the default rate and increasing loan repayment numbers.
Is it that simple? Or are these regulations just affecting my rationale?