In 2010 the Obama Administration proposed a highly controversial Gainful Employment Rule in an effort to ensure career colleges are properly preparing students to be employed post-graduation. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Rule would measure the debt students would incur throughout their enrollment in comparison to their income to determine if they would be capable of repaying their student loans. After careful review of program statistics, the US DOE stated, “If a program graduated a large share of students with excessive debt-to-earnings ratios, it would be required to clearly disclose debt burdens to current and prospective students. The program could also become ineligible to participate in federal student aid programs” (Hamilton, 2010). In the wake of constant pressure from the Obama Administration, many for-profit colleges have increased the presence of their virtual Career Services Department to assist students in seeking employment both while enrolledand once they become an alumnus.
What is Career Services?
The Office of Career Services, and the tasks it manages, vary from school to school, but in general the department is responsible for career assistance and connecting students and alumni with the local community. By establishing a relationship with the students and local employers, internship and job connections can be made to meet the needs of both parties. While most schools offer this service to its students, after careful consideration and close research, there are four schools who clearly address their mission for Career Services and the benefits offered to students on their website. By reviewing this information before deciding on a school and program of study, a student is given the opportunity to focus on their education and career goals before they speak with an Admissions Representative.
Argosy University – Making Practical Career Choices
Owned by Education Management Corporation, Argosy University’s Online Division boasts regular access for students and alumni to career counseling, job search advising, web resources, and an online job listing database. In addition to these amenities, students are provided feedback and advice on:
- Composing a resume and cover letter
- Answering interview questions professionally
- Salary negotiations
- Managing job offers
- Networking and informal interviews
All services rendered by Argosy University to its online students are conducted either online or via the phone. The school’s website does not indicate whether or not a student can receive assistance from an on-campus Career Services Department.
Ashford University – Hire a Champ!
Operated out of San Diego, California and owned by Bridgepoint Education, Ashford University and its Career Services page, like other schools, states the services are available to both current students and alumnus. Similar to other schools, searching for jobs, preparing for interviews and resume-writing are all services provided free-of charge. However, current and prospective students are also offered the opportunity to complete a skills and personality assessment and view Career Services videos posted on YouTube. Information is also discussed relating to building a LinkedIn profile, effectively using massive job-search sites such as Monster.com and Indeed.com and the importance of conducting company research both before applying for a job and going to an interview. Additional services include:
- Joining a professional association
- Matching your degree to your career
- Resume checklist
- From an employer’s perspective – resume tool
- Resume writing guidelines
University of Phoenix – Connect Your Education to Your Career
The largest for-profit institution in the country, Apollo Group’s University of Phoenix currently enrolls nearly 380,000 students. The schools’ Career Services page displays colorful pictures and eye-catching column headers such as Let’s get to work, Career articles, and a private access page for current students and alumni. The department itself advises students of the career resources and online tools available to help them from before enrollment through graduation.
Specific resources said to be provided include:
- Resume preparation
- Career exploration via self-service tools
- Job market research tools
- Professional networking opportunities
- Support services and career articles
- Direct access to potential job openings
There is no doubt the for-profit sector is under sharp scrutiny lately, and perhaps rightfully so; “In 2010, for instance, the for-profit colleges in the study employed 35,000 recruiters, compared to just 3,500 career service staff and 12,500 support service staff. The 30 companies in the study spent $4.2 billion on marketing and recruiting, or 22.7% of all revenue” (Adams, 2012). Students, however, will surely see a growing trend in the career assistance being offered to them from many for-profit companies hoping to decrease the debt-to-income ratio being tracked by the Obama Administration. Whether or not the Gainful Employment Rule will go through modifications before 2016 is not known, but in the meantime students should take advantage of the services benefiting them in the wake of the 2012 Harkin Report.