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California bans ITT tech from accepting new students (latimes.com)
293 points by emeraldd on Aug 30, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 312 comments

I agree with a lot of the complaints I've heard about ITT. They seem to broadly fall into three camps:

1) They are expensive and rely on their students getting gov't loans,

2) They don't adequately prepare students for the work place, and

3) The teachers aren't very good.

I think those are all great reasons to not go to ITT. But, I think those reasons could also apply to a whole lot of other schools, profit, non-profit, private, and public.

Certainly, I think #1 applies to a whole lot of schools and student #2 applies to any school that has majors with poor job prospects. And I think nearly every college student has experienced #3 with at least some of their professors -- sometimes because they dont know the material well and other times because they are completely uninterested in the teaching aspect of their job.

Yes, these are problems that are present for some other schools, but ITT Tech is far worse. For-profit schools aren't even in the same ballpark as other types of schools, in terms of the default rate.

These are businesses where the "admissions counselors" are salespeople who are told to lie to people and strongarm them into attending, taking out massive government loans and effectively stealing money from the federal government when they inevitably default.

"In 2011, 22% of student loan borrowers from ITT Tech defaulted on their federal student loans. In contrast, the average default rate for 4-year public institutions was 8.9%. For private student loan borrowers, ITT’s projected default rate is a whopping 64%. This is primarily because of the high tuition, low graduation rates, and low job placement."


Comparing a 4-year college and a technical school is heavy-handed. Neither share demographics, nor business model. As one of 'We the People', it is also disturbing to read 'stealing money from the federal government'.

As someone who attended ITT Tech I feel that their recruitment practices were at least somewhat predatory. The same sort of practice whereby used care salesmen will tell you what you need to pay per month without ever making it clear what the total cost is. All the while of course they knew that most of the money would come from federal student loans. These happen to be loans that the students can never escape. Buyer beware for sure.

> The same sort of practice whereby used care salesmen will tell you what you need to pay per month without ever making it clear what the total cost is.

The instructor of my accounting class was a former used car salesman. He said that his customers didn't want to hear about total cost, they were only interested in the monthly payment. He'd try to explain, and they'd cut him off and go for whatever had the lowest monthly payment.

they'd cut him off and go for whatever had the lowest monthly payment

What if this were a rational decision? For a person with low disposable income and no savings choosing the lowest monthly payment is the most rational decision.

Well, it seems like the most rational decision. Whether or not it is, I guess, depends very much on the persons situation.

For example, if you need to buy a car now (eg because you rely on it for work or something and can't wait to buy), then sure, it might very well be. On the other hand, if that's not true, then saving the monthly payment until you can buy it outright is much more rational (and cheaper). I understand that many people can't do that, however.

I neglected to mention a key point. When he'd show them a plan with a much lower total cost, but a higher monthly payment, they'd accuse him of trying to trick them into a higher payment. No way were they going to fall for that one.

They certainly believed they were making the most rational decision. It didn't help that used car salesmen don't have a reputation for honest dealings.

Did you get anything out of your experience there?

I hate it when people would rather impeach sources than talk issues. At the same time, a casual look at the site you linked shows quite a few advocacy groups who obviously have an agenda to push. http://higherednotdebt.org/about/

So I would check those stats with a careful eye looking for bias.

Meta: I actually prefer opinion pieces to news articles. In an opinion piece, the author has to state a thesis, then defend it with facts and an argument. Makes for honest reading. What I don't like is the proliferation of persuasion pieces masquerading as news items -- and it is by no way limited to political action groups. Even the MSM gets in on the action.

So as far as I know these guys may have a point. But they also carefully choose what to present with an eye on influencing public opinion. This is not the site that would ever have an article saying "Ooops! Turns out ITT Tech wasn't so bad after all!"

22% vs 8% is not as big of a difference as I expected. It is plausible to explain that difference by the type of students likely to attend ITT vs a 4 year public university.

The students who are likely to go to these trade schools are often better served by the Community College system, but often don't know/understand it as an option.

One interesting statistic, <20% of CC students take out loans for school (the cost is generally low enough they can pay out of pocket), but ~20% of those students also default.

Nearly three times as likely to default on federal loans? And nearly six times as likely to default on private loans (I saw 11% as the rate). That's a pretty big difference.

And 64% amongst those with loans to default on...

why not allow them to operate instead of force them out--make them pay for all defaulted loans above 8% -- that might make them work harder to get their students gainfully employed so they can cover their loans. -- not that I like ITT, I abhor them, and think that Bootcamps are WAY better in terms of quality education and quality of job prospects.

I wouldn't go as far as saying bootcamps are better.

My experience with Bootcamp grads has been pretty lackluster to say the least. They get taught the absolute basics with a "guarantee" for employment after, but not many tech companies will take someone with no education, no experience, and only a light grasp on the basics of programming.

My town has been getting a lot of Bootcamp grads lately applying for jobs in the tech sector. According to a friend, his company interviewed a bunch of them and didn't find any of them met their requirements in the least.

My opinion of bootcamps is that they are little better than something like ITT. High cost, very little reward. You'd be better off teaching yourself.

Yes this.

The problem here is with the government instead of ITT in my opinion. If you are lending money to someone who is taking significantly more risk it is your fault if the person fails to pay it back and not of the consumer or the business selling the service.

In fact it makes sense for the government to do better credit risk analysis for every college-course-student instead of providing loans for any student, college course. The private banking industry already has this system and it makes sense for government to just leverage that.

This is in part because the federal government has decided that student loans from private banks were too expensive and so the government themselves should offer them cheaper, for great justice.

As such, the private student-loan sector in the US is no longer a going concern, and no student loans accurately price risk - a neat little wealth transfer to buy votes from students. It's also a scary credit bubble; apparently we learned nothing from FMAE and FMAC and just blamed big evil banks for following the perverse incentives. Hilarity ensues.

Can you point out a country where a private student-loan sector is working well?

One thing the government does that the private sector won't is prioritise the needs of society over financial results. Say, for instance, that "teachers" and "nurses" were underperforming groups of student-loan takers. Private sector would say "OK, stricter controls on student-loans for those!" Meanwhile the government would say "OK, but we really need more teachers and nurses in society, so we'll keep giving them student loans like today." This is of course a fictional example, but you get the point.

Working well can also mean that the sector doesn't exist when it shouldn't.

But to give an example: lots of people in lots of countries traditionally get support from their families for education and are expected to help out their parents financially later in life. This kind of financing never even hits the markets---but on the other hand, parents are probably the people knowing their kids the best.

"One thing the government does that the private sector won't is prioritise the needs of society over financial results."

Getting young people into more debt does not prioritize the needs of society.

If you want to prioritize the needs of society, provide young people a tuition free, or at least very low cost, education. Current system only really benefits scam operations like ITT.

People who can get into uni already mostly made it into middle class. If you want to subsidize anything, do early childhood care.

India. A hell lot of Indians (29K last year) come to USA for their Masters degree. These kids borrow loans from Indian banks at 10% to 12% APR do their M.S. and then pay that loan back quickly.

Even though MS is significantly less risky you need to factor in the huge gap between value of that in money in USA v/s India.

Market signals works pretty strong here. Stanford can charge you whatever they want while the F1 visa factory college charge a modest 10K for a 2 year M.S.

If we need these people in society, let their salaries increase. There is no reason to prefer debt ridden graduates paying higher interest rates at lower salaries with government soaking up the cost of defaults to the benefit of employers and their direct customers.

Yes, because everyone has that perfect negotiating power to do so. There are no school districts that are struggling or can only afford to pay so much for teachers, and hospitals that can't afford higher salaries for nurses.

The "invisible hand" is not what should be guiding society. The "invisible hand" has declared that it's more worthwhile to be a Kardashian than it is to be a teacher or nurse.

> The "invisible hand" has declared that it's more worthwhile to be a Kardashian than it is to be a teacher or nurse.

What you propose is to guide society by deliberately lowering the pay of teachers and nurses even more. So are you saying that the invisible hand is right? That a Kardashian should be expensive (which reduces how many are available) and that teachers should be cheap (meaning we can afford more of them)?

"What you propose is to guide society by deliberately lowering the pay of teachers and nurses "

No, I'm not. So your response has lost all credibility right there.

I proposed increasing their pay, or letting it increase, and you disagreed, so how are you not proposing to lower their pay?

If you want more teachers, you can either increase budgets to pay them more, or you can use some artifice to increase the supply of teachers so that wages get suppressed. You implied having more teachers would be nice, with your comment about Kardashian. So your own views here are self-contradictory.

No, you didn't. You proposed using the "invisible hand of the free market". I told you why most of us wouldn't trust that idea.

The text you're quoting is nowhere in this thread...

Look, teacher pay is in control of the government, not the market. And nurse pay and nursing demand has already had demonstrable impact on students' selection of what to study. (You can observe this by looking at the real world.)

Is there a particular hypothesis that you're arguing against? Is it that increasing pay won't attract students to the line of study? Do you disagree with the equation (Teaching Budget) = (Teacher Pay) * (Number Of Teachers) in a material way?

In fact I ... wait a second.

Me: > I proposed increasing their pay,

You: > No, you didn't.

Me (upthread): > let their salaries increase.

Well now, looks like I did. (You can observe this by looking at the real world.)

You two are talking past each other.

The response to your "let their salaries increase" pointed out that there are districts (and counties and states) where this simply does not and can not happen given how government policies are structured. Much of that the result of quite deliberate "starve-the-beast" anti-tax policies, but also frequently a simply quite inadequate economic base.

In the deep south of the US, say, the state of Mississippi, you have a de-facto segregated school system. Whites, even poor whites, attend private schools, largely religious, known as "Segregation Academies". Public schools are almost wholly the domain of blacks.




Markets don't exist independent of power constructs, a fact explicitly recognised by Adam Smith: "Wealth, as Mr Hobbes says, is power." Much of Smith's Wealth of Nations is about those dynamics.

This thread reads as if two ideological agendas are being pushed on the other, rather than some seeking of greater truth. I'm finding your line of argument the less pesuasive and less sincere.

You are basing your theory of ideological agendas on the other guy's histrionics. I don't think the question, "Should we pay teachers more, or should we instead trick more teenagers into taking loans," is one that involves debating whether or not you believe in capitalism, or that needs you posting a bunch of links about segregation all of the sudden.

Perhaps you might care to revisit your comments above then and clarify what it is you're arguing for, rather than simply against others' statements or views. Because I'm not getting that, and I'm apparently not the only one.

You said, "let their salaries increase". HOW? If the district doesn't have the budget, the salary isn't going to increase. Just like any business, they're not going to be able to pay out money they don't have. So no, you did not propose increasing their pay.

Invisible hand is something I trust far more than anything else to guide the society.

We need lot of teachers and nurses and that is possible only if they are cheap. If the teachers and nurses are expensive we will have few of them making education and healthcare more expensive.

The probability that some celebrity would earn disproportionately more than a conventional career will always be 1 in a fairly free society. Even in sports like say sprinting 1 player often is far better than rest of others.

"Invisible hand is something I trust far more than anything else to guide the society."

And I don't. The invisible hand has said that the Kardashians are more valuable than teachers. So to me, any argument that says the "invisible hand" should be used is completely invalid.

Why the downvotes? It seems perfectly sensible that the government should be selective about who it loans money to. Even more so than private industry, considering the money they're handing out is from a deficit that productive peoples' taxes pay for.

I'll entertain the notion, because I have questions and reservations of my own (powered by certain built-in and historical baisies as an American...infer if you will):

What would the criteria be to determine loan eligibility for a student fresh out of high school?

GPA, extra curricular activity, criminal record, intended major, savings, jobs worked and the duration they were held, etc.

Of course, none of this is as accurate an indicator as a FICO score which is why student loans are federally guaranteed, otherwise who would offer them?

All of this goes to underscore just how destructive the "college for everyone" concept is. The government is making junk loans so that naive young people can pursue useless degrees and graduate directly into crippling debt servitude. Consequently, colleges have transformed into bloated profit machines, happily ratcheting up tuition in response to this inflated demand.

Sadly, reform will only happen once this system collapses in on itself.

A FICO score is pretty meaningless for someone just graduating high school. They likely don't even have a credit card yet. And for those who do have a FICO score, what if the very reason they're applying to ITT tech is the same reason their score is bad? You also want to avoid "discrimination."

Any data on how good FICO scores are at predicting default rates? In my limited experience, my own credit report is rarely accurate... and from what I understand, that is quite common. So I wonder how a score calculated on inaccurate information could possibly be a great indicator of default rates?

No data except to postulate that if FICO scores had no correlation to default rates then the entire credit industry would fail.

What is inaccurate about your FICO score? Maybe it results in false negatives (meaning your score is low when it should be high), but if the opposite was true across the board (bad borrowers getting high scores) then the credit industry would collapse.

I'm not sure there is 'no correlation'. But I don't trust the credit industry to not do stupid things...

My credit report often has accounts that aren't mine listed. Balances can be wrong for months. Accounts occasionally show late payments that were on time. The dates are often wrong (sometimes by years) for items, and then little things that are used to verify my identity by many companies can be quite wrong, like past addresses.

> colleges have transformed into bloated profit machines, happily ratcheting up tuition in response to this inflated demand

Colleges aren't really "profit machines" though, and growth in tuition hasn't paced enrollment increases, so it is more likely that aid levels are being increased in response to rising tuition, rather than tuition being raised due to increased aid. Interestingly, one of the dominant factors in the growth of personnel costs for colleges is healthcare for employees.

Between 1975-2004, enrollment increased by 65% in four-year colleges while cost increased by almost 200% over the same period. [1][2] It's not really a demand-driven phenomenon because colleges have capacity to support the number of students attending, so the marginal cost of accepting additional students is low. The more likely cause is that loans (private or public) turn students into consumers, forcing colleges to compete with each other to attract paying customers. Look at the facilities and amenities provided at German universities (which are 100% publicly funded) compared to public universities in the US. We spend tremendous amounts of money for health centers, gyms, sports, clubs, etc., that require increased spending on construction and administrative support staff. [3]

[1] http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d15/tables/dt15_302.60.as...

[2] https://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tabl...

[3] http://www.demos.org/publication/pulling-higher-ed-ladder-my...

It seems like a chicken or egg problem. If there were no student loans beyond what you could get from a bank or friends and families, fewer people could afford current tuition costs and colleges would be forced to lower them to attract new "customers".

It's Keynesian demand-side stimulus at its core. With the national dialogue focused on how college should be available to everyone, along with unlimited, federally guaranteed student loans, demand skyrockets and prices rise to meet them.

> ...colleges would be forced to lower them to attract new "customers".

This is categorically false. Schools would maintain whatever price point achieved equilibrium with the market's ability to pay. It would not necessarily require any school to reduce their prices.

> ...demand skyrockets and prices rise to meet them.

But that doesn't make any sense in the context of the higher education market..."supply" is neither fixed, nor constrained (within reason). Schools could easily expand their supply to accommodate additional students because there is actually an over-abundance of adjunct labor (rather than full-time faculty) in most fields that are trained and available to teach classes now, at much lower costs than traditional tenured faculty. The costs of providing education have actually fallen during the same period that the costs of running a college have risen. It's not being driven by "demand" from prospective students -- cost growth is being driven by competition between schools.

Schools also can't choose to compete on price because the availability of "free money" in the form of loans makes students less price sensitive. Instead, schools end up competing based on maximizing overall "quality of life" factors within a fixed price.

> All of this goes to underscore just how destructive the "college for everyone" concept is.

No, it shows how destructive the US policy response to that concept is, not how destructive the concept itself is.

Neither difficult-to-discharge loans without substantial cost or quality controls, nor an extensive role for private, for-profit institutions are demanded by the "college for everyone" concept.

> Consequently, colleges have transformed into bloated profit machines, happily ratcheting up tuition in response to this inflated demand.

I don't think its true that "colleges have transformed into bloated profit machines", so much that "colleges that are bloated profit machines have expanded and taken a larger market share".

Well, that's exactly what the Federal government did. "If you want a student loan, you can't enroll in ITT, as it's too high risk".

That's what the government of the state of California did, not the Federal government.

The federal government banned new students with federal financial aid from enrolling in any ITT program or campus.

Then, the California state government banned all new student enrollment at ITT campuses in California.

If the payment has no causal relation with the services acquired via the loan, yes. Unfortunately what we seem to have here is a company selling the means to pay the loan one needs to take to pay for those means and, considering the reports on the quality of the services rendered, those means are being fraudulently misrepresented.

That is an incredibly clever solution. Could you go a step further and reward schools who have a lower default rate as well? Having an institutions incentives aligned with the students sounds like the first step to solving this.

Would they do that or just become more aggressive at debt collection?

In economic policy, the Federal Reserve has as its mandate controlling inflation and unemployment. Inflation is exogenously measurable, but unemployment isn't. Rather than have the Fed measure unemployment, a seperate government agency, the Burea of Labor Statistics, does. Hence: the Fed doesn't measure what it manages.

Forbidding ITT from pursuing collections, leaving that to an industry which has experience with loans (banks), and instead, leaving it to modify what it can control -- the control, the recruitment of students and instruction standards -- might result in a successful incentives alignment.

You'd have to police and very heavily penalise any kickbacks or covert communications between ITT and lenders.

Maybe? But I'm not sure what good it'll do them. When someone can't get a job they're not exactly going to be paying back debt faster, even if they wanted to. I can't see how them being more aggressive could really help the situation much if at all.

If most of their income is from guaranteed loans, then they are likely considerably less aggressive right now than they could be. Debt collection can also lead to wage garnishments. Never underestimate the desire to extract as much blood from a turnip as possible.

They've already had several chances to better themselves. They haven't, and so they don't deserve another chance.

Why do private lenders lend to ITT students?

Because student loans are guaranteed by the federal government. Student can default and the bank will still get their money.

> Student can default

Um no. They can't. That's the problem with American student loans. It's the only contract you can enter into under 18 and you can never declare bankruptcy on them. It's the most bullshit type of loan there is.

In grad school I put part of my car on Student Loans because it was 0%. My car load was 5.2%. After I graduated, my student loans shot up to 6.8%! I quickly dumped all my savings onto them and squashed them in three months. Even if I hadn't been able to to that, I probably had the credit to get a cash loan for under that and pay them off. Most students don't have that option.

By "default," GP means simply not paying - not bankruptcy. If someone can't afford to pay their student loans, they probably don't have assets in excess of their debt anyway.

I'm not going to claim it is an epidemic, but I know a few people in this boat. Generally speaking they are able to get by with a few life hacks: Cohabitate rather than marry, work jobs under the table, and/or be the stay-at-home parent.

Why would they allow their student loans to default in such a situation instead of enrolling in an income based repayment plan? If they have 0 income, they would have a payment of 0 dollars, still get their tax refund, and have their loans forgiven after a some time on the plan.

Not all federal loans allow income-based repayment. For instance, parent PLUS loans aren't eligible, nor are other loans made to or through parents. Moreover, there are tons & tons of private loans (often with high interest rates) pushed at these places, and none of those need to offer income-based repayment.

PLUS loans are to the parents though, not the students- do they even count as "student" loans? They are more "parent" loans.

> It's the only contract you can enter into under 18 and you can never declare bankruptcy on them.

Please stop repeating this myth. It is, in fact, possible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy. (It is particularly difficult to do so compared to other forms of debt, but there is an enormous difference between that and "you can never declare bankruptcy on them.")

See, e.g., http://www.studentloanborrowerassistance.org/bankruptcy/

Technically it's true. But reality says that it's highly unlikely, and so it's just as good to say that you can't declare bankruptcy on them. The odds that you will be able to discharge them are incredibly low.

>It's the only contract you can enter into under 18 and you can never declare bankruptcy on them. It's the most bullshit type of loan there is.

Students are offering up zero collateral and usually have minimal credit history for a loan in the tens of thousands of dollars. For better or worse, if students could default on their student loans, fewer banks could/would make those loans.

On the other side of it, they are the only loans I know of that offer income based repayment, and complete loan forgiveness after a certain amount of time while on such income based repayment plan.

Technically illegal to use school loans for things like cars or houses.

From the way I understand it, you can use student loans for any expense related to going to school, including living expenses.


Highlights include

> Transportation (cost of travel to/from school, but not for purchase of a vehicle)

> Room and board costs can include one of four allowances, depending on where you live:

> On-campus in housing that is owned or operated by the college > At home with parents (only applies to students without dependents) > In housing on a military base or for which a basic housing allowance (BAH) is provided (allowance restricted to board; room is excluded because it is already paid for) > Off-campus

No "Durable" goods like houses or cars may be bought with student loan money in the US.

That is very interesting, in many years of dealing with student loans for myself and my wife, I have never heard sucha thing! For example, the Department of Education publications usually say somthing like:

"You may use the money you receive only to pay for education expenses at the school that awarded your loan. Education expenses include such school charges as tuition, room and board, fees, books, supplies, equipment, dependent child care expenses, transportation, and rental or purchase of a personal computer"

(see https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/sites/default/files/your-federa...)

It would be interesting to find an official statement on this... I couldn't find anything on the Dept. of Ed website and my search for the actual laws didn't turn up anything...

Transportation means buss fairs not cars.

I was given paperwork when I got my undergrad student loans, and it was very clearly spelled out.

If the loans are private, I am not 100% if all of the same rules apply.

Not everyone lives in areas served by a bus system... none of the paperwork I have ever seen has spelled out any of this like that... it may depend on the school you are attending. I don't know, I haven't found the law or any official statement by the Dept of Ed. on it.

> Not everyone lives in areas served by a bus system..

Totally not related to the discussion. The rule does not say "If you live in a place served by busses, you cannot buy a car with student loan money"

My point is I'm not sure it is actually a rule- I can't find anything official that says that it is a rule. If it is a rule, it is a stupid one- but that is indeed a different discussion.

I agree with the rule. It's meant to discourage people from buying massive expenses with a loan that cant be discharged with bankruptcy.

And this arguably the real issue. I'm all for the government funding education as long as it's effective education and not overpriced.

In the case though they effectively put up a "Free Money" sign with nearly zero strings attached.

Like in UK? Where everyone gets a student loan from the government, but no university(and that includes Oxford and Cambridge) is allowed to charge more than 9k(roughly $12k) a year? You also don't start paying back until you have a job that pays more than a certain amount per year, and you have 40 years to pay it off - if you don't, it's forfeit.

To be fair, if you make your minimum payments on federal US loans for 25 years, the loan is forgiven (although you are taxed on the amount forgiven). The income based repayment or the public service option means that you may never even touch the principal and still have your loan forgive .

I love federal student loans for many reasons, but I don't get why there are so many people in these comments talking about federal loans as if they're representative! The max you can get from the feds is $5,500 the first year, $6,500 the second, etc. if you are a dependent. Your parents can get more through a PLUS loan (not eligible for income-based repayment) or you can get more in certain cases when your parent was denied a PLUS loan (weird).

So if you're at a place that costs $30,000 in tuition, as many do, when you max out your federal loan and your parents max out the PLUS loans you need to go into the private market. None of those loans offer public service options or IBR as part of a standard deal.

The post to which I'm responding explicitly mentions federal US loans -- thank you. Lots of other folks here are not making that crucial distinction.

Income based repayment plans are even better in the US- if you have low income, you don't pay anything the same as you describe, payments go up with income... and loans are forgiven after 10-25 years, not 40!

They dont unless its a government backed student loan or unless you have a co-signer.

I cant imagine any private student loan for IIT that wasnt co-signed with massive interest rates.

What's the default rate for private student loans for a public 4-year school?

Roughly 8.9% it looks like.

(Last section of article mentions it...)


A better comparison would be to a two-year community college.

You're analyses of #2 and #3 are too crude. In the case of #2, there is a difference between teaching subjects that are not in demand and teaching subjects poorly. ITT is in the latter. For #3, at a good university, you may have some bad teachers, but the majority are usually good, and the overall experience is beneficial. This is also probably not the case with ITT.

How can we legitimately know whether an ITT grad is sufficiently equivalent to one from a traditional university? The complaints from the state focus default rates, but if there's a hiring bias against hiring for-profit graduates, then default rates are measuring the strength of that bias.

What bias? You can't get a degree in HVAC repair at a traditional university. It's a different labor pool.

Here's ITT's course catalog for their Oakland campus: https://www.itt-tech.edu/campus/download/140.pdf

I'll save you the surprise of discovering that Ctrl+F'ing for "HVAC" yields zero results.

Some gems in here

    SD2520 Introduction to Database and XML with jQuery
    4.5 credit hours 
    This course introduces fundamental concepts of database technology and applications.
    Topics include object-oriented relational databases, database management systems,
    and using SQL, XML and jQuery to build databases that interact with applications. 
    Prerequisite: PT1420 Introduction to Programming or equivalent

In fact what makes the quality of a university is really the quality of its students. It is completely self-fulfilling. Good reputation attracts good students who will become good researchers, or do successful careers, further contributing to the good reputation.

In a way universities are competing for a finite resource (smart and hard working students). Unless we as a society find a way to increase the supply of smart and hard working students.

Hard working we can do by more social pressure.

Smart,... Hum. We get into the nature vs nurture debate, on which philosophers and sociologists fight over, but which should really be settled by neuro-scientists!

I disagree with #2 completely where you specify a school that has majors with poor job prospects. I studied Psychology/Philosophy, specifically Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience related fields within Psychology, but the job prospects for a Psychology major are minimum entry level jobs at best unless one pursues grad school.

My plan was never to work in the field, but rather take classes that I enjoyed and could learn more to become a more well rounded individual. With that, the onus is upon the student who takes a major that does not have incredibly great outlook upon graduation to develop a plan to survive in the real world.

I'm a mid level software engineer now, and the courses I took around I/O Psychology, Human Behavior Psych and many other Social based Psychology courses have paid incredible dividends within my career.

I know n=1, but as someone who worked nearly full time through out college to afford it even with student loans I'm tired of hearing about the blame being on colleges. The student has a responsibility to harden the "f" up and prepare themself for the realities of the real world.

> But, I think those reasons could also apply to a whole lot of other schools, profit, non-profit, private, and public.

So why stop at ITT?

Who says they will?

One of the things that's very interesting to me is how information asymmetry helps drive people to these kinds of companies. I don't know everybody's story, but when I was just out of high school, there was no chance (I believed at the time) that I'd be able to go to a traditional school. I had bad grades, my family was poor and nobody in my family had gone to university except for my father, who had quickly abandoned his post-University career for more blue collar work.

Wanting to try to make over minimum wage, I went to an ITT-like trade school to talk with an "admissions counselor" seeing if they would accept me (of course they would, for a price). I took a fairly simple "placement exam" (which of course I passed). I told the counselor I didn't have any money (no problem!) I was then shown a variety of ultra high-interest loan options which would guarantee I could get through the "program" (just sign here!). I remember getting odd, cagey, answers about the accreditation of the trade school, and couldn't imagine how I'd pay back a loan that large if I took it on.

I had the presence of mind to "let me think about it" instead of giving in to the hard pressure sale the guidance counselor was offering, went on to work my crappy jobs for a couple more years before accidentally running into an old friend who grew up in a similar situation as me and ended up going the community college route.

It was "real" college (for some value of "real" and "college"), was a tiny fraction of the cost of the trade school, and graduation guaranteed placement in a state school of my choice. That sounded too good to be true, at least the trade school had some kind of real cost associated with it. But I went and checked it out, it was all true. A.S.->B.S.->M.S. and now I have a career, no student debt and choice of great high-paying jobs.

Later, while I was attending community college, a coworker was going to that same trade school, hemorrhaging money and then one monday came in and told a story where they had gone out of business, didn't tell anybody, and just padlocked the doors over the weekend.

Of course he still owed all the money for his loans.

Community colleges are a hidden treasure in the United States. Many of them have very good professors, are cheap and have the benefit of having transfer programs into a big name university for the last 2 years of your 4 year degree.

I'm not sure why schools like ITT or Phoenix even exist or how they attract "customers/students".

This may sound arrogant, but for me, an ITT or Phoenix degree is worth less than the piece of paper it's on. I would actually pay money to have my name never associated with them on a resume or otherwise. Buying a fake diploma in a subway might be a better investment.

Having a school like that on your resume is pretty much the best way to signal to potential employers to never hire you for the kinds of jobs that will let you move up the financial and social ladder.

It's not arrogant at all, as being able to do some basic research is a big part of any IT field you get into. If you can't be arsed to google for the reputation and qualifications of a "degree" from a for-profit "school" you're investing thousands of dollars in, what does that say about the potentially critical type of purchasing and general infrastructure decisions you'll be making on the job?

high pressure sales tactics and marketing....community colleges or legit trade training programs like an electrician apprenticeship wont call you for hours to get you to join.

Also, some foreigners literally do not know any better.

Was it the Art Institutes International? My mother taught typography and design there and I could tell you some stories! It, and schools like it, are very intentionally set up as funnels for government school loan programs. There were some good teachers there that did their best, but the corporate side was a pit of snakes. The labs were all outfitted with 5 year old technology, the teachers were paid peanuts, but every year the recruiter with the most sales got an all expenses paid two week vacation at a five star tropical resort. If you want to see the effects of the education bubble, take a look at for-profit trade schools.

No, it was a Computer Learning Center.


I've known several people who successfully went the Community College route. It's a GREAT way to get started, in most cases you'll actually learn something, and it's comparatively cheap.

Something I've been very surprised about, at least in the CC systems in my area, is that most of the professors also teach at local 4-year universities, or are senior employees/contributors at major companies in the area. Very few of the professors I encountered were solely employed at the CC (mostly because the pay is terrible), but it meant that lots of outside talent came in to make the classes work.

I had far more terrible professors at the state school level than at CC. But I also had the best of the best there as well. So CC professors seem to come in somewhere in the middle in general -- very solid.

Reading the comments here has been really eye opening to me.

I always knew that tuition was orders-of-magnitude more expensive across the Atlantic but now it's a bit clearer why.

Here (Northern Ireland, but it applies to the UK as a whole), students don't start to repay their loans until their earnings are over a certain threshold, then repayments are proportional to how much they earn over that level. If their annual earnings ever fall below it again, payments stop until they're back on their feet.

I can't remember exactly what my interest rate was but I know it was fixed BELOW the central bank rate at the time.

Standard financial advice here is to max the loan out even if you weren't in need of it and just put it in a savings account for the interest (probably not worth it these days).

Lastly, if the loans aren't fully repaid by retirement age, they're written off.

So yeah, you folks are really getting screwed over there.

Coming from Finland where all schools are free, the tuitions sound crazy to me as well.

However I don't think "good loan terms" is the cause for your low tuition prices at all.

At least in other contexts, the reverse is usually true: When people have easy access to capital, prices go up. This happens for example in Finland with government rent subsidies (for people with trouble paying for a place to live in): When the subsidies go up, the rents go up as well, and apartment owners pocket more.

Interesting that you make the point about rent subsidies, we have those here to (but under a different name).

It has a really strange effect though of putting a floor of £450/month on almost anywhere (even the nastiest dive you could think of), but the sweet spot seems to be the next 25% up to £600. The difference between a really nice, new house, and a really crappy apartment in a bad area is about £100/month, solely because of the bottom on rents provided by the subsidies.

I suspect it's a really nice racket for modern day slumlords to be honest.

New Zealand use to have free education. Then it became interest free ... unless you left the country. They bleed a lot of talent out to Australia, so if you move for more than 6 months they start charging you interest.

It turned from being a good socialist system that helped everyone to being a forced means of talent retention.

In the same way, American student loans are really aimed at keeping people trapped in industry they might grow to hate. Everyone has to pay the mortgage and all that.

I think "forced means of talent retention" is an unfairly harsh characterisation. It's a pretty reasonable policy considering taxpayers have to service the debt, and people who go overseas stop paying tax. It's all very well to propose a "good socialist system" but if people pay domestic fees and then leave NZ they're essentially getting a free ride and it's the people who don't go to uni who end up paying for it.

It's not forced though, is it? You just have to pay interest.

When I went to school, not even two decades ago, the cost was much much lower here (in the U.S.). The recent explosion in tuition is very recent, and very troubling.

As an example, I received 6 years (equivalent) of University education, earned two A.S. degrees, a B.S. degree and an M.S. degree in that time for around $26,000 or an average of around $4,400/year. It got more expensive as time went on, I switched from local community college to state school and went for my M.S., but my salary also increased rapidly during this time.

Today, that amount would barely cover 2 years of education. Even with inflation this is terrible growth in expense.

> I can't remember exactly what my interest rate was but I know it was fixed BELOW the central bank rate at the time

The current calculation for the interest rate on UK student loans is (RPI + X)% (where X varies from 0 for people earning less than £21k, to 3 for people earning £41k pa or more).

There have been some moans about the interest rate; firstly because RPI is consistently higher than CPI, and secondly because both are consistently higher than the BoE's base rate. Still, it's a darn sight better than the other side of the pond.

The U.S. is slowly moving towards tying repayments to income, though with less generous thresholds than the UK model. As of 2015, people with direct federal student loans can opt into "revised income-based repayment", which caps payments at 10% of income for a maximum of 20-25 years: http://blog.ed.gov/2015/12/your-federal-student-loans-just-g...

In my case, after graduating I was 43k in debt and at 7% interest. I had to consolidate because if you don't you end up with 14 loans and having to pay around 1500 / month. Which is impossible for most new grads. You don't have to pay if your income is low after graduation by opting into "loan forbearance". However, this is a death trap as well as the loan continues to accrue interest! Needless to say, young dumb me didn't know any better until it hit 50k...

I don't know how long ago that was, but 7% sounds crazy high for something you can't shake off with bankruptcy proceedings.

I was applying for more loans to finish up college when they told me my intrest would be 8% for this loan. I said, "wow" (catches breath) "isn't that a little high?" I will never in my life forget what that woman said to me. "You should be thankful, other students are getting 11%"

This was in 2010, shortly before I graduated they made it impossible to ever get out of these loans with the new bankruptcy thing.

Are there any good ITT / University of Phoenix type schools? They all seem like scams.

I don't count community colleges here, I know those can be very good. My wife went to one, got great education, was able to pay it by just budgeting money every month out of her part time work. Then switched to a 4 years univeristy, transfered credits and graduated with honors after 2 more years (with minimal loans).

Would it be hard for any of these for-profit school to also do a good job?

This is a classic problem.

You have a situation where the quality of the thing (in this case teaching) isn't easily known ahead of time, so the success of the organization isn't dependent on the quality of teaching, but instead is dependent on the quality of marketing (roughly).

So now you have a bunch of organizations with limited resources competing in the same space, and we'd like it if the organizations who provided the best education were winning. And providing a good education isn't opposed to also having good marketing, in principle.

The problem is that the organizations that try to be good at both teaching and marketing are competing against organizations that are trying to ONLY be good at marketing. The marketing organization will tend to win over time because it's easier to be good at one instead of being good at both, and the organizations that are just good at teaching die because they are bad at marketing.

tldr; Teaching is hard. Marketing is hard. Both at the same time is hard squared.

You're missing a key component: ITT and Phoenix recruit students who don't gain admission to any other public and private schools, a group that is generally of lower general intelligence and critical thinking ability than other college students, and more susceptible to marketing lies. These schools are unlike competitive non-profit and public colleges, in that they are delighted to enroll wholly unqualified students.

pmichaud is likely referring to just the market place of technical schools like ITT/Phoenix etc. and not comparing them to competing with public/private colleges.

The ecosystem for HVAC schools is a competitive one where the winning HVAC program gains on the losers through a marketing advantage, not a teaching advantage.

The quality of education varies between institutions. I graduated from DeVry a little over 10 years ago. I got a decent education (ABET accredited B.S. Computer Engineering Technology) and was able to put myself through school and get a good job. I could have done it a little cheaper in a state school and a lot cheaper with a community college, but for what it was I don't really have any regrets.

My only critique is that they accept ANYONE. This leads to a large number of dropouts. You have people that haven't been able to grasp basic algebra and they bust their butts learning basic math and then hit Cal I, Cal II, Signal Processing, etc and they just can't hack it. By the time they flunk out they've wracked up tens of thousands in student loan debt.

We lost something like 60-80% of the students we started with in the first 2 years.

That seems immoral on the face of it to take advantage of those people, but at the same time this happens (albeit to a much lesser degree) in all schools, and I was grateful for the opportunity DeVry extended to me as a student with terrible grades in highschool.

I also graduated from DeVry quite a few years ago. I attended on a FISL (Federally Insured Student Loan it was called then). The FISL was easy to get because the school had a track record of nearly 100% hire rate for graduating students.

A few weeks before graduation an army of potential employers came and interviewed at the school. I received three offers. Everyone in my class who graduated had at least one offer. The education we received was solid, as evidenced by the demand from employers who knew the reputation of the school. I got a good job and paid off my loan.

It is true that the attrition rate among students was pretty high. Lots of people were admitted who weren't the least bit interested in attending class. Some even repeated a term a couple of times while they hung out and partied. They shouldn't have been there. If they were on a FISL they probably either defaulted or someone else paid it off.

I don't know what DeVry is like these days. But if I had to do it again in the same situation I was in back then I would do it. It opened a good career path for me.

I also went to DeVry and graduated in 2006. I was really upset for a long time about the cost and quality of the education after I got into the workforce, especially after having had a few manager tell me outright that they almost didn't bring me in to interview because of the school on my resume. After talking to other people who graduated with similar degrees (mine was in CIS) it seems like the actual quality of the education I got wasn't materially worse than any of the people I know who went to state schools. Really I was upset because the recruiter had essentially promised me a CS degree and what I got was a degree that was a hybrid between a business management degree and a coding bootcamp.

I think, cost aside, I do have to acknowledge that without DeVry I'd probably have never gone to college at all. I was definitely exiting high school hovering over the cracks and ready to fall through them, I had no resources to help me even visit any other colleges, let alone navigate enrollment or filling out forms for financial aid. DeVry recruiters might have been sales people, but they made sure I was able to navigate the process and because of that I had 4 years to self-study and learn and came out of it at least able to say that I have an accredited degree.

One attorney I know pursued several claims against scam schools a few years ago.

Of the schools he had investigated, he said DeVry was unusual because it was trying to operate like a real educational institution.

Federal loan money has distorted for-profit and non-profit institutions. But it's depressingly uncommon to find for-profit trade "schools" that actually care about educating students.

Interesting. Other comments imply that too. It would seem like actually trying to teach students something might be good for long term survival. Being around longer means make more profits for investors, go figure...

I went to NYU for a masters program, and it was similar in some ways. They accepted almost anyone who applied, so the students were on a spectrum between extremely motivated and barely present. That said, the quality of the permanent faculty and some of the facilities was world class. But you had to be assertive to get the most out of it. A lot of the most motivated students had a great experience. Some of the unmotivated ones got what they were looking for too, they basically bought a masters degree, or at least some time in a masters program. Many in the middle were disappointed. This is probably not uncommon in higher ed, where technical masters programs are treated like profit centers.

My understanding of the for-profit institutions is that the able sort of division exists, but it tends to be a lot more stark.

Interestingly enough, I found out quite a few years ago that my father followed the same path as you. I had always known he went to a university, graduated in computer science, and worked as a database administrator. I never knew which school he attended. When I found out I asked him if it was the same university I saw in computer/television ads and he said yes.

After a bit more discussion I think it's safe to say that DeVry is (or was between his time in the 80s and your time) a different breed of school than ITT. They seem to be a real school that just accepts anyone. Drop out/Graduation rates be damned.

This whole premise of this story has me wearing a tin foil hat. [tldr]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILQepXUhJ98[/tldr]

Soooo many questions. so few answers.

I'll start with my immediate thoughts. High dropouts are not absolutely a bad thing. In fact its pretty normal in all western schools that have zero focus on "how to learn". The "problem" is clearly earlier on in the education system, wherby students are reaching college age not knowing "how to learn", and suddenly finding its important.

Next up - the cost of learning/knowledge material. I know of textbooks from the US being priced in the multi thousand dollar range (or simply not available for student purchase). "Teachers/Lecturers" aren't that important (I say that having graduated with a joint 1st from a top UK university having acquired a lot of warnings criticizing me for hardly ever attending lectures, but I wasn't skipping the material, I was skipping lecturers reading from textbooks).

All that said, I am left feeling these stories are more about attacking education that provides chances for the lower classes in the US to become middle and upper classes. Nothing about this ITT tech story addresses this one way or the other. Where are the employment stats for those who successfully graduate? Where are the interviews with graduates? I just see a ton of hyperbole he said she said. And whenever I come across that I automatically assume its a political power based decision, rather than a rational "good for everyone" one.

I know that all sounds a bit confused - that happens with "immediate thoughts". Its a first attempt at thinking about something we haven't really been allowed to think about.

Why am I thinking along these lines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

Education was set up as a "production line" into large public institutions. But the politicians destroyed the "large public institutions", and education doesn't teach people to be their own institution.

"If you are interested in the model of learning you don't start from this production line mentality"

Everyone prefers they look at community college which is super flexible, dirt cheap, and will accept anyone.

There are also legit apprenticeship programs for trades.

The for-profit schools have a decades long record of charging 10x community college rates, paying teaching staff poorly, and almost always having poor standards of education. If government loans were ineligible, most of these institutions would close over night instead of trying to continue with poor friendly community college rates.

->If government loans were ineligible, most of these institutions would close over night instead of trying to continue with poor friendly community college rates.

Isn't that true of any education system based on tuition fees?

So I found http://www.bankrate.com/finance/college-finance/myths-for-pr...

says: Relatively few recent high school grads attending school full time flock to the halls of for-profit schools. These schools typically cater to nontraditional students, including older students with full-time jobs, parents, military veterans, at-risk students and those who need flexible class scheduling.

So is this really about "fixing" schooling, or just "fixing spending on people who don't deserve an education".

Feels much more like the later than the former.

Makes sense. Thanks for sharing. I am glad it worked for you.

There is probably a good pattern of going there but studying yourself and then get an official paper there (as long as it states accredited).

I did that to a certain extent at an average state school. Got grades from there but also used to study in depth other things I was interested in -- learned Python, security stuff, networking. It was really knowing those extra things that got me the job later, but if I didn't have the official paper, would have not gotten through the door (unfortunately).

But yeah accepting anyone might seem nice "we don't reject people like those mean state schools" but they don't do it from the goodness of their heart obviously.

> My only critique is that they accept ANYONE. This leads to a large number of dropouts. You have people that haven't been able to grasp basic algebra and they bust their butts learning basic math and then hit Cal I, Cal II, Signal Processing, etc and they just can't hack it. By the time they flunk out they've wracked up tens of thousands in student loan debt.

I went to a private ABET certified school for an Aerospace Engineering degree. My class was maybe 80-100 students when I started, and at graduation there were only ~20 of us. Everyone who left early was also stuck with a metric tonne of student loan debt.

Besides the financial issues that these companies created, the main issue is the quality of teachers.

There are so so many of these colleges that the pool of quality teachers are almost all going to be in universities.

I took a business course for a year and all of the teachers were at most middle managers, marketing managers, or long retired company-men from IBM or other big corps.

They all just read off of powerpoint slides and rarely provided any valuable insight on their own, by design.

Mostly just a sea of mediocrity by people who were well intentioned but never made it far in industry so they got an easy job that's likely personally rewarding but not exceptionally valuable to the students vs reading a few books or any level of experience on the job.

And besides 50% of my class was Chinese kids who paid 5x as much as me in tuition to be there and had a poor grasp of English. These kids were the real target market. So quality wasn't necessarily the goal. Just filling seats and offices.


Digipen has some alumni in Valve that worked on mechanics for portal and portal 2 http://digipen.edu

As a graduate of a few years ago and repeating what some folks from before even my time have mentioned I'll be the first to add that digipen isn't what it once was. Sure it's not really close to ITT levels of fail... Yet.


Schools like that are where the "Tighten up the graphics on Level 3" meme came from!

Western Governors University is an NWCCU accredited school that has programs in healthcare, business, information technology, and teaching. They're different in some ways from ITT tech and the like in their competency-based method and business practices (~$3.5k per semester), but they generally seem to be well respected. The teaching model (or lack thereof) does lend to high dropout rates, but it can be a good model for working professionals. I have an undergraduate degree from WGU and have had (comparable to my peers) considerable career progression that I would attribute to my withdrawal from the traditional brick-and-mortar academic system. I finished my B.S. in 2 and a half years and spent the rest of my 4-year allotment in full-time corporate employment while most of my friends over a year left at their traditional school. I also graduated with less than 20k in student loans, with most of that balance coming from my stint at a brick-and-mortar.

As someone who attended ITT Tech for software I would strongly recommend going for a traditional BS in Comp Sci or something similar. Initially once I landed a job I was okay, but as I have advanced in my career I have more and more moments when I really miss a fundamental understanding of various computer science topics. Whether that is a better grasp of algorithms and how to judge performance of various designs or database theory and its implications for complex data driven systems - I find myself wishing I had taken the "hard road" instead of going for the quick degree.

There have been a number of times I have sat staring at my monitor thinking that I just don't know enough to solve the problem at hand. That instead of spending days on the issue for someone better educated it would take hours.

I worked for a while at a culinary school in New York. The students got a fairly intensive prep for work in a commercial kitchen. They got what they were paying for, but it was expensive, so whether it was really 'worth it' was debatable, in terms of payoff jobwise.

From what i heard is that the big boys have bought out the decent ones and then proceed to scam the loan system immediately. Hell, some actually bought liberal art universities.

Now that they exhausted the supply of trade schools, they're moving on to buying bootcamps.

At least there is no federal loan system to "scam" this time, and the private loans should be dischargeable in bankruptcy. I should also mention that some of the schools were already going downhill anyway, for example Heald College.

At my last company we had a slew of ITT graduates apply for a role one time. I talked to probably 10 or so of them. They seemed to have received little to no educational value from their time at ITT. I assume they were all promised great jobs, but all of them were not remotely qualified to get even a basic entry level technical role. I felt terrible for them paying money for the "education" that they received.

One of my best direct reports came from ITT. In his case, I'm pretty sure he'd have been successful having gone anywhere, but at least ITT didn't prevent his future success.

I'd be interested to hear what you would expect as bare minimums for a "basic entry level technical role." I've heard of recruiters being dumbfounded at CS grads not being able to code FizzBuzz and to be honest I can't believe it.

Let me flip that around and offer that I've had "technical" recruiters fail their end of this transaction as well.

One experience involved a recruiter who wanted a compete rewrite of a CV portion outlining a SQL project from planning to continuous implementation models I built.

This on top of 8 years of other experience in data design and management.

The recruiter wanted to pass on my resume because I had failed to indicate my experience with flat CSV files and thought I needed more experience with them as a "highly specialized software stack".

I decided not to pursue that company further, maybe it was ego getting in the way but insisting I rewrite a technical resume covering 10 years of database experience over the omission of operating with flat files seemed like refusing to hire a qualified electrical engineer because he didn't list AA Batteries on his resume.

Had I been the hiring manager (or anyone in management) here, I would have LOVED it if you had gotten in touch directly and told me about this. This likely would have been followed up by an interview with you and said recruiter being dismissed. I think a lot of good companies would do the same.

> refusing to hire a qualified electrical engineer because he didn't list AA Batteries on his resume

LOL! It won't be long before the majority of EEs under 25 won't even know what an AA battery is. In fact, I bet it would be pretty hard today to find someone in their 20s who knows what a 9-volt is.

Uh....every twentysomething who's living alone has to figure out what a 9-volt is eventually. Fire alarms, yo. I totally get the whole "grizzled old EE" act, but really?

I have six young relatives (nephews and a niece) that are all 19 or younger. I'd bet that all of them but maybe the 2-year-old know what a battery (of this type) is and all but the 2-year-old and maybe the 6-year-old can name different types.

Remember, their phones and tablets charge from a cable but their toys and remote controls use 9-volt, AAA, AA, and D batteries.

Edit: I guess you were emphasizing the obscurity of the 9-volt in particular, but I think they probably have several things that use 9-volts.

It's that thing they take out of the smoke detectors in their college apartments...

A 9-volt is the boxy one you put on your tongue to get a little tingle!

I'm 20 and know what an 9 volt is. I have also licked one before.

Now if you said 4.5V flat pack lantern batteries, then yes. I've seen like 1 before, and it was dead.

Let alone experience licking one.

Haha! I'm 28, and my dad and I bonded over, among other things, licking a 9-volt battery.

Are 9-volts not around anymore? I haven't seen one, but I don't use anything they used to be common in like toys and radios.

Many smoke detectors/alarms still use it. In Australia smoke detectors now have to be wired to the house but have a backup battery in case of a power failure.

pedantic but you're off 10+ years. We still needed 9 volts in the 90s.

Some of the low power circuits in older amateur radio books use 9-volts.

I've personally interviewed applicants for a "senior developer" position who claimed on their resume 5+ years of jobs where their primary job was supposedly programming, and who could not come up with code to sum the odd integers from 1 to n.

I've heard stories like that before. Serious question, what do those people actually do? Are they just so far removed from these general type of questions that they can not answer them or do they have no programming ability at all? It just strikes me as bizarre

For some, it could be anxiety. I sometimes choke on really simple questions in interviews that I know I could easily answer if I were home alone. I have anxiety issues in general, though.

I think it's also important that sometimes it can be misunderstanding the question.

I know it sounds silly because it's written clearly here, but in a spoken interview it's possible an interviewee can miss a detail and suddenly think they're faced with travelling salesmen. Or are worried about I/O

Of course in those situations, the "right" thing to do is ask for clarification, or think out loud. And an interviewer should make sure the interviewee is solving the right question (in the real world, people help each other).

This is pretty significant. I recently had the opportunity to sit in on some meetings & IM conversations with a recruiting team at my workplace, and was pleasantly surprised with how detailed they were in honing their interview approach.

One proposed open-ended interview question in particular (these recruiters utilize both coding exercises & open-ended questions, plus some other stuff), "What's the difference between the stack and the heap?" was shot down for a number of reasons - colloquially, these refer to two different pools of memory wherein variables can be allocated. But stacks and heaps are also specific data structures, so there's some ambiguity. Most importantly, it's surprisingly difficult to answer that with anything that's 100% correct (e.g. "the stack is for variables with known lifetimes, whereas the heap is for those with unknown lifetimes" is really just a convention, and there are plenty of exceptions w.r.t. data structures of size that isn't compile-time constant, or dealing with polymorphism in certain languages). And since the question is rooted in fact, vs something that's intended to be debatable, lots of people won't throw forward the thoughts they have that are only 80% correct - they effectively freeze.

At one company we were reviewing the interview questions we used for graduates, and we had to take one out about a hypothetical factory manufacturing widgets. It was actually a simple maths problem about widgets per hour given various inputs. But the grads would freak out at the word "widget" and derail the interview demanding an explanation of what exactly a widget was, what it was used for, etc etc. I personally thought that that was an excellent filter actually, but I was overruled...

In manufacturing, you use the term "part" for one instance of a unique thing, and "part number" for a class of identical parts. But people who have never been in a factory may not know that.

If we'd have said parts we would have got the same reaction, parts for what? what are they made of? they would have asked. As I say it was meant to be a simple maths problem, but what many of them failed on was what was an even more basic skill of extracting the relevant parts of a sentence.

That's a deep question. Allocating large objects on the stack is usually frowned upon. (Especially in places with small stack limits, such as the Linux kernel.) It's common to allocate just the header for a variable sized object on the stack, but put the bulk data on the "heap". C++ vector classes do this. On-stack variable size arrays were in the C standard for a few years, Microsoft didn't implement them, and they were kicked out of C as a feature. Stack variables are usually live enough that you want the top of the stack in the cache, and big on-stack objects can break that.

Should programmers in interviews know that?

Never-ending projects that never deliver, and management that never looks at the code. Also, cheating your way through college - which is basically a requirement for a lot of programs that offer a vertical learning curve, programs spoiled by the fact that many of the people who take a CS program have been hobbyist programmers for years.

After the second semester, CS students divide into three groups:

1) stressed out hobbyist programmers having their mind blown by the complexity of what they're learning,

2) people with no programming experience failing to learn to program (because the intro courses don't actually have any lectures about the basics of programming) and switching majors to business or engineering (because they've already taken calculus), and

3) other previous non-programmers who are copying other students' work or googled answers from the internet.

Type 3) eventually graduate, get jobs based on having the degree, and never finish a project in a programming role by utilizing a combination of charm, excuses, and transferring between jobs before they have to show their work. If they can paula = "Brilliant"[1] long enough, they can get into management before they are exposed.

So many of the people I did CS with never even learned basic programming skills before they got their diploma. This is at a major state university with a very well-regarded program.

[1] http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/The_Brillant_Paula_Bean

Haha, the longer I stay in the software biz, the more I believe paula = "Brillant" to be a true story. The sad thing is, that there are tons of talented programmers out there who actually know what they are doing, getting rejected interview after interview because of "culture fit", while charlatans like paula BS and charm their way into job after job, trashing their projects and moving on to the next one as soon as their ruse is about to be uncovered.

Chalk it up to yet more evidence of how tech interviewing/hiring is utterly broken.

ive been paula in 2 jobs recently....unintentially. i specificaly asked if they wanted to give me a hard technical interview....both greatly objected including one who said they trusted me despite only having 1 year or programming experience....for a six figure senior lead roll.

Both seemed to really liked hiring odd canidates but were no slouches on coding.

Your comment is bullshit. Some of the best people I've worked with, both in and out of college, didn't even begin programming until taking their first CS course in college. No cheating or adderall involved.

You aren't doomed or damaged if you haven't programmed before hitting college. Claiming that is slandering a generation of engineers.

I'm criticizing a lot of CS programs, not programmers who didn't program before college. There are plenty of good programmers who never attended college for computers at all. My own mother started programming after majoring in English in college, learning in a training program at her job in her mid-20s (because she wanted to move out of a management track.) She went on to a 40 year career, and inspired me to become a programmer.

I can see why my comment could be seen as slandering all non-hobbyist programmers rather than programs that don't bother to teach programming because they expect you to already know when you arrive, but you would probably have to skip the second sentence of the first paragraph, and the first parenthetical in item 2).

Thanks for the rage, though.

Again, I watched people graduate who couldn't fizzbuzz. They got jobs, and they still couldn't fizzbuzz. These were friends, who I liked very much as people, and I'm as happy that they got good jobs as I am sure that anybody who hired them should be fired.

> but you would probably have to skip the second sentence of the first paragraph, and the first parenthetical in item 2

No, I think you're just poor at communicating. Your claim was "After the second semester, CS students divide into three groups", and then listed those three groups, zero of which involved a person who was new to programming doing well. You had every opportunity to hedge your statement, and you did not.

Because I intentionally excluded that category, under the qualification that I was talking about programs with a vertical learning curve, that also had intros to programming that didn't actually have lectures about programming. You clearly read those words, so the problem is either reading comprehension or being intentionally obtuse.

They're called "weeder" classes, and probably every CS department has them. You take your intro classes then they dump you into algorithms.

My colleague theorizes that many of the developers that we're interviewing with 12 years of experience actually have the same year of experience 12 times. That is, they move from job to job after 12 months and do the same stuff again and again without any kind of growth.

It's common with people that have only done green field work. They learn all sorts of cargo cult practices but aren't their long enough to learn their lesson.

People that have worked in brown fields are often selected out by recruiters because they think it's harder to build a system than to maintain one.

You don't need a program for that, as Gauss figured out in elementary school.

My tech lead was bemoaning a round of applicants for a senior position, where some of the candidates couldn't even conceptually 'get' FizzBuzz, let alone code it.

Someone I know (not me, I swear!) was excited to interview an experienced candidate with a fantastic résumé for a test lead position.

Said candidate did not know what a unit test was and could not figure out how to write one, even after the concept was explained.

I have no idea how this could ever happen.

Were they a manual tester? HR/Recruiters don't seem to know the difference.

Should they know about unit tests though? That's a developers job.

I didn't interview said candidate but I am under the impression that web-based integration tests were their specialty. Still no excuse to not at least be familiar with the concept of unit tests.

The role we were hiring for was for tier 1 desktop support. It involved basic Windows and network troubleshooting. Most of the people we hired for this role were self taught and picked up their skills troubleshooting issues on their home machines.

I also would be shocked if a CS grad could not complete FizzBuzz, but apparently that happens.

What about coding bootcamps? Aren't they worse? They try to make you a "coder" in a couple of months and promise people jobs if they finish the course. It sounds eerily the same thing as ITT...

One of the recent members of my team was from a bootcamp, she's been a real joy to work with and has mad some decent contributions. Bootcamps may serve their purpose but like with anything else YMMV.

Depends a lot on the bootcamp, and how motivated the person participant is. Some of my coworkers are bootcamp graduates and all are fantastic.

I met someone when I was at college who went to ITT and said that he paid $30k and learned nothing from unqualified instructors, he felt (and clearly was) scammed.

I mean, that was also my experience with my degree from a major university.

I told them I wanted to be a computer programmer, they said "Oh, you want a Computer Science major, then." I didn't realize until after graduating that I'd learned about electrical engineering and processor architecture and compiler design and lots and lots of math, but almost no actual, y'know, computer programming. Pretty much had to start from scratch to make an actual career.

But...if you learn all that stuff, isn't programming pretty easy? It's just specific abstractions on top of the fundamentals you already know... (I don't mean to be dismissive, I'm honestly mystified by your perspective here.)

Not really. Usually you get to learn all that stuff, and you get to learn programming doing the assignments, and projects. But there are some places out there that teach a very theoretical course, so unless students seek out programming experience they won´t get it.

Programming is hard, and for some people it´s hard bordering on impossible. A surprising number of the latter still manage to get CS degrees.

It does bother me that it's seen as normal that students should have to seek programming experience on their own time. From my point of view, I was "seeking programming experience" by going to class all the damn time. I feel like I was lied to, basically.

Programming is to CS what telescopes are to astronomy. I understand that this is not obvious to an 18 year old outsider, so in that sense you may have been misled by an admissions counsellor who probably didn't understand it either, but no - studying CS won't make you a software engineer by itself. At all.

Unfortunately, in most cases, it's the option you have. An actual software engineering degree concentration would be better for what most people actually want, but it's a rarity. You'd have to entice professors with industry experience (who are good enough to know what they are supposed to teach), and you aren't doing that on typical faculty pay scales.

> An actual software engineering degree concentration would be better for what most people actually want, but it's a rarity.

Part of the problem, IMNSHO, is that we have widespread disagreement with the profession of software 'engineering' (such as it is) about what is mandatory, what is excellent, what is good, what is minimally acceptable and what is intolerable. We even see that what some people think is mandatory others think is intolerable, and vice-versa.

I don't know that we'll be able to have an actual proper software engineering profession for at least another two decades, but honestly closer to a century.

Exactly that. I told them I wanted to be a programmer, and they told me to do CS--I was lied to.

CS is the only field where this happens, as far as I can tell. There's plenty of degrees that aren't really useful career prep, but they're generally well-known--no philosophy major expects to graduate into the highly-paid world of professional philosophy. But if you're studying law or medicine or architecture, you absolutely do expect to be learning career skills.

There's this bizarre hole in CS where students come looking for a law degree and somehow get philosophy training instead. And then we have a thousand blog posts complaining about how fresh CS grads can't code FizzBuzz, and nobody at the universities ever makes the connection.

I'm not so sure about this. I have friends who are engineers and lawyers and architects who would say that their schooling was a similar mix of foundational theory that is only indirectly useful to their career and practicum that got them started with the kind of work they actually do as my friends who studied CS at various schools. I guess YMMV?

No. I have seen very bright people who really suck at coding and require a lot of hand holding. They are good general problems solvers and good at math but simply cannot get the engineering mechanics of coding right. Software development, especially large scale software development is a combination of engineering, design and crafting with long hours also put into rework and testing. It appears not everyone is suited to this process.

I talked to a number of seniors majoring in computer science at a decent college not long ago - none of them knew what software version control was.

While, or right after, taking these theoretical courses in Java or graphics or whatnot, I would launch a project in that area to ground all that theory in something I could then manifest. I don't think this occurred to many of them, but to be fair, they are young and have been in school all their lives, and I went to class with a lot of (mostly non-programming) experience in the IT business already under my belt.

> none of them knew what software version control was.

I was pretty intimately familiar with CVS by the time I graduated (very late in the 90s). But now that I think about it, it was probably introduced in an "Intro to C and Unix" which was a 1-credit class one of the faculty forced as a pre-req for certain higher-level courses like those on compilers. It was a crash-course on C (for students who had mainly used Pascal in their first year or two), Unix philosophy, and some associated tools (make, cvs, vi/emacs).

It only met the first third of the semester, so it could be taken concurrently with the class the required it. I wonder if other schools do something similar. It worked quite well, since by the the time you got up to speed, it was time to start building lexers in the compilers course.

Most developers (senior ones too) I come across only know the very basics of version control, how to check in/out and branch, but not merge.

It's like chemistry being applied physics or biology being applied chemistry. It doesn't hurt and it certainly helps knowing what's going on a layer down, but you're operating at a completely different level of abstraction with a large body of knowledge to learn.

All the stuff I mentioned has essentially zero application to writing a server script or a website backend or a commercial application, is the thing. It's like knowing car engines backwards and forwards, but never actually getting to drive one.

I should mention, also, that our programming exercises were in C++ exclusively, on the campus Unix system exclusively, and the only development environment we were ever officially taught was vi. Not even Vim. IDEs, debuggers, webcode, and GUI libraries were never mentioned. Hell, they didn't even teach us anything about CLI or vi beyond the absolute minimum needed to create a file, compile it, and run it. I spent some time trying to figure out how to just get a C++ compiler on my desktop so I wouldn't have to mess with vi anymore, with no help whatsoever from my classes.

I have never had to use C++ in my entire career since.

I've heard the same complaint from a lot of my classmates. The ones who were successful right out of school were the ones who were working on their own projects outside of class, and learning that way--which some people will say that I "obviously" should have been doing myself, but in my teenage naivete I assumed that the curriculum I was paying so much to receive would actually teach me what I needed to know.

It's unfortunate that you're getting downvoted, because I think you're speaking the truth. I had a similar experience as someone who was trained to be a computer engineer 10 years ago, but actually make my living doing modern web systems development. Don't get me wrong, I had an awesome experience in undergrad on all fronts. But it would be inaccurate to say my course work was particularly applicable to my actual profession.

I suspect you were down voted because there are a lot of people who went the traditional route into programming who now feel threatened by (or at least indignant towards) people coming in via accelerated routes like bootcamps and self-teaching.

The reality is that the universities _should_ be doing a better job.

I also think there's a lot of people who feel protective about "pure" computer science, in the same way a philosophy major might feel about their degree, and look down on people like me as mere technicians. They don't seem to realize that we need technicians, and they have to be trained somehow.

Ah, yeah, this totally comes down to the age-old (or at least, decades-old) debate about what universities should be for: higher education or job training? The "job training" forces seem to be starting to win most of the mindshare, which I think is a bit of a shame, but c'est la vie.

Personally, I think splitting the two roles into different kinds of institutions with different goals makes a lot of sense, and we already have this with universities vs. trade schools and community colleges, but (unfortunately, IMO) employers have consistently shown that they prefer to hire people from places that at least make a show of being more of the "higher education" persuasion than the "job training" persuasion. Sooo, yeah, you're probably right that in the current world, universities should just do a better job of teaching job skills.

I can't upvote this enough. In college I used pine for email and created C++ apps in vi. Did learn how to create VB6 applications though. That was right about the time that .net was finally released. Web app development consisted of editing HTML in notepad, so not a very real world like experience.

Judging by the other people in my CS program, no, it is not. I don't know whether they just didn't put any time in actually programming, compared to the more theoretical CS stuff that was explicitly in the curriculum, but they were largely still flailing away at null pointers and seg-faults in the upper-level courses when it came to the final projects that had to have actual, working code produced. These were smart, smart people, too.

I dropped out of the CS department after I screwed up my math pre-reqs, studied history, and spent what time I wasn't drinking beer or playing basketball, fooling with game programming. That actually left me in good stead when I managed to leverage the few programming-centric courses in the CS department into a minor - I still can't do proofs, but I can sling code and I read enough Joel on Software and Coding Horror to pick up some software engineering and architecture by osmosis.

totally agree. also most CS degrees don't have a ton of EE courses, I only had a handful.

even better, learn programming on your own before college. then hacking out assignments is easy, and you can form a great appreciation for the theoretical work.

Focusing on practice or theory alone misses some of the magic, imo.

I'd imagine it depends on the "bootcamp." It seems like many of the more reputable ones don't charge tuition and make their money on referral agreements for successful placements.

"It seems like many of the more reputable ones don't charge tuition"

The only one I know which doesn't charge is 42. Are there others? Which ones?

App Academy charges its tuition as a proportion of first year salary.

Holberton School[1] does not charge anything up front either, but takes a percentage of salary once placed in a job. If we want to make software engineering and computer science accessible to everyone, I think adopting this type of model is a great idea. We need more diverse minds in the tech industry and this is one way to do it.

[1] https://www.holbertonschool.com

+ a $5000 upfront deposit.

We* do the opposite and offer a 100% refund if the student isn't employed as a developer within 6 months of graduation.

As for the original comment, some coding bootcamps are starting to publish stats on graduate rate/outcomes (a few of which are also 3rd-party audited). The industry as a whole still has some bad eggs, but it's getting better.



While I'm not really big on "Online Bootcamps", I'd like to see metrics or even success stories from Thinkful.

What real-world skills does a typical Thinkful grad possess?

Sure, here are some 3rd-party verified metrics: https://www.thinkful.com/bootcamp-jobs-stats/.

Students focus on web development in JavaScript, specifically React & Node. I run our Full Time program where students gain experience in "thinking" like an engineer as they learn a new skill on their own (enough to present it to the group) during "Flex week", work on polishing the features of an unfinished app during "Swap week", collaborate in a larger team in the 3 week "capstone project" where they divide responsibilities and assign clear roles, develop wireframes/specs, and join daily standups led by our instructors to prioritize features/descope when needed.

You can dig more into the curriculum/day-to-day schedule here: https://www.thinkful.com/bootcamp/web-development/full-time/. If you have questions not answered or clarified enough by that page, you can reach me by email (in bio) for anything else. Always welcome to constructive feedback as this specific program is only 7 months old.

It looks like BPPE has their eye on them as well, at least they did in 2014


That's not an "as well", BPPE is the California government agency that acted here. An article with more details, including a link to a full copy of the emergency order, is here: https://consumerist.com/2016/08/29/california-bars-itt-tech-...

The major difference between bootcamps and this sort of enterprise is that bootcamps don't pretend they are as good as a regular college.

In fact many are quite proud of not being that.

I feel like the people who excel after coding bootcamps would have excelled without them. Self starting, picking things up quickly, and looking for a good deal aren't bad traits to have in general. Lots of people I know that have crossed the "General IT dude threshold" to development via a coding bootcamp.

Networking can be hard when you don't already know someone. I'd imagine that for the people you describe, having someone handle the first contact pushes their career forward very quickly.

I think it's hard to lump them all into one bucket. One still needs to be quite ambitious and have a good CV going into the bootcamp, but I've seen people come out of these programs that have landed good job. Are they the world's best coders, no but they know enough to join a team and add value.

The same could be said for many graduates of ITT Tech style schools!

Depends on the bootcamp. Some of the best candidates I've interviewed graduated from hack reactor.

the ones that have hard requirements of tech experience or skills seemed to do alright.

I think this is a fantastic step in the right direction, but what is the legal justification here? ITT is in no way alone in being evil and predatory, so I'm surprised I keep hearing about crackdowns for them but not for anyone else. I'd love to see some new rules to keep all of these predatory places from operating instead of what kinda seems like a picking out a scapegoat. (Or is all this recent news more general and everyone just mentions ITT?)

California would probably like to ban all of the for-profits, but can't. ITT, however, stepped so far beyond the pale that it gave regulators an opportunity to punish them.

California is basing its move on a US Department of Education decision, which itself was based on a history of previous litigation, which started because of concerns over ITT's accreditation. Basically: no accreditation, no loans, which given ITT's business model would basically put them out of business. And if a school's accreditation is threatened in some way, the Fed can step in and require the school to post a bond, so that the USG isn't left footing the bill (students are already protected by law).

This, from what I can tell, is what happened to ITT: their accreditation was looking sketchy, so the Feds started to get concerned, and required them to post progressively larger bonds to protect the government against a closure, and also cut off new Federally-funded students from starting. This may or may not be enough to kill them as a company. CA is using this concern over future viability, combined with what appear to be some pretty strong consumer-protection laws, to prevent them from registering new students at all in CA. (I'm somewhat surprised they can do this, if you were just going to pay cash-on-the-barrel-head and not get anyone else's money involved, but they must have some particularly stringent laws about higher ed in CA. Probably not a bad idea all in all.)

It's been speculated that what the US DOE is doing is a rare example of the administrative "corporate death penalty" in action; that the moves are designed not just for the immediate regulatory ends, but actually to kill ITT. Pour encourager les autres, as the saying goes. Of course they can't come right out and say that, but it would fit with some of the evidence.

And personally, I'm ready to throw some rotten vegetables as they're climbing the scaffold to the noose.

I think the story began with more attention being paid to ACICS after the Corinthian College fiasco, forcing them to finally act. In practice, I don't think there would be that much new enrollments after they killed student loan funding anyway (remember that the high tuition fees they charged was sustainable only because student loans cover them).

To keep with the analogy, do you think the Robespierre will arrive to usher out the age of neofuedalism?

Minor nit: It was an English admiral that was killed to encourage the others.


Does anyone have references to more specific accusations against ITT? There are lots of vague claims in the article, but the only semi-specific ones -- misleading students about program quality and pushing them into irresponsible loans -- could just as easily be laid at the feet of public and private nonprofit colleges.

I have no particular reason to trust or distrust ITT. But it strikes me as a trade school that presents itself as a college, and that seems like one viable approach to our credentialism issues, so I want to know if it's being attacked for legitimate or political reasons.

>Does anyone have references to more specific accusations against ITT?

Here's 101 reviews that rate the institution 1 and 2 stars: https://www.consumeraffairs.com/education/itt.html

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a lawsuit against ITT Educational Services, Inc., accusing the for-profit college chain of predatory student lending. The CFPB alleges that ITT exploited its students and pushed them into high-cost private student loans that were very likely to end in default. The CFPB is seeking restitution for victims, a civil fine, and an injunction against the company.


A recently unsealed whistleblower lawsuit against for-profit college chain ITT Technical Institute accuses the school of operating a “systematic scheme” to defraud the government by using a litany of abusive, deceptive practices to enroll students.


For-profit educational giant ITT Technical Institute inflated its job-placement rates by counting “any job (graduates got) that somehow involved the use of a computer” and misled prospective students about the quality of its programs as part of its high-pressure recruitment tactics, the Massachusetts Attorney General alleged in a lawsuit announced Monday.


The earlier Washington Post article https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/08/2... mentions a fairly large list of investigations and lawsuits. Yes there is some political pressure on for-profit colleges, education always has some politics involved, but this long list of investigations and the seriousness of the allegations paints a picture of a company that has utterly failed to meet regulations and likely has massive financial improprieties. Most companies with regulatory issues, even fairly major ones will settle the multiple lawsuits and then put in place controls.

It seems there have been multiple lawsuits filed semi-recently against ITT. Here's a story about one from last year which was started by a former employee and later joined by the DoJ; you can skim it for some allegations about ITT deceiving students:


direct link to complaint: https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2016/01/lipscom...

A separate suit was filed by the SEC around the same time alleging that ITT deceived investors and auditors regarding the financials of its student loan program:



There are others.

The gist is that they let anyone in (and advertise heavily to try to let everyone in), regardless of their ability. They also charge exorbitant amounts that students can only pay because of their government loans. That might sound a little like the general complaints about college, except that they don't really offer anything in the way of actual education, and the costs are really high, even for U.S. colleges.

So what ends up happening is the government pays the school and the students lucky enough to graduate end up with massive debt, no useful skills, and a degree that actually counts against them on the job market as employers think, "They were dumb enough to fall for that scam?" Other students who leave part way through are often surprised to learn that none of their credits are transferable to a real college because other schools know how bad these are.

So basically its a scam to defraud the government, in which students are merely the conduit for the money

> (and advertise heavily to try to let everyone in)

Notably, they advertise heavily on Comedy Central and Cartoon Network during the Adult Swim "burner hours". It's not a good look when you're targeting the same demographics as phone sex lines...

Do they really provide nothing resembling education? I once had a friend of a friend ask me for some CSS help for some assignment, later I found out it was for some University of Phoenix course. Ideally the instructor would have taught the principles of CSS so that my assistance wasn't needed, but instructors not teaching the fundamentals and letting students figure it out somehow (or muddling through without ever learning) is par for the course at most colleges. Presumably these schools have lectures, assignments, projects? What explains the gap seen by companies on the other side apart from letting students graduate without actually having learned anything? And does this really only apply to these sorts of private schools?

Class quality varies greatly by program but they are notorious for recruiting people who can barely read or will pass since the real goal is aquiring their hefty federal student loan allowance.

So either classes are dumbed down so they can eventually graduate or fail many leaving them with a gigantic loan amount(most schools try to max this out) and no education cert.

Also, they tend to pay fairly low for teacher faculty while having little prestige or oversight: quality is unlikely in this environment.

However they have top notch recruiting and sale teams.

> so I want to know if it's being attacked for legitimate or political reasons.

Why would California attack ITT for political reasons?

The problem with ITT is the same problem with all such schools - profit above all else. Whether their students learn anything is secondary.

Proponents of taxpayer funded education, and unions, frequently attack high performing private schools, at least here in Australasia.

That said, it doesn't sound like this is one of the high performing schools.

There is a very big difference between a private university and a for-profit school.

Educate me ;) Seriously, I'd be interested to know what you see the difference is.

Almost all universities public and private in the US are 501(3)(c) nonprofit organizations. (Some public ones are more or less an extension of the government and don't count)

For-profit universities ... aren't. They're owned and operated by for-profit companies, the accreditation is usually terrible and in no way comparable to other universities, and they deceive students into thinking they'll be getting something similar to a university degree.

For example, ITT is run by ITT Educational Services Inc



What really needs to happen, is the US needs to restrict federal student loans to programs on a whitelist of accreditors (whitelisting the accreditation organization not the program, like ABET for example) as well as restricting organizations calling themselves "institute", "university", etc. as well as giving out "degrees" without matching the whitelist.

I have _no_ problem with the concept of a for-profit university, but they're being allowed to exist with very low standards and it needs to stop.

In fact I think the whole university system needs to tighten it's belt and be made smaller and more elite. Too many people think that ticking a university box is necessary to get a job / to hire a person, especially when so many people get such low quality degrees.

I'm not even railing against soft degrees, but their contents instead. "Liberal Arts" ... if you deconstruct that you can get to the original meaning which might be rephrased something like "the skills necessary to live a free life" which a whole lot of university degrees these days do not do at all.

So, this seems to me like a problem that is almost perfectly amenable to market solutions.

University has poor standards? Don't hire their graduates, or at least, don't weight their qualifications as heavily.

I don't understand why you think Government action - that is, force - is necessary here. Or is it that you think they are defrauding their students by calling themselves Universities?

The main reason is that the government is the one holding the pursestrings that enables the whole system to operate. If federally-guaranteed student loans cannot be used by these places, their business model collapses entirely. And a big chunk of these terrible for-profit universities are also preying on veterans using their GI Bill benefits.

Accreditation organizations are private. Vetted by the Department of Education, but still private organizations.

It's just an external audit, and there's nothing at all wrong with that. These for-profit organizations are defrauding students by providing very low quality and very expensive educations, all the while passing the low quality standards set by a broken accreditor.

Market solutions don't work when the target audience are young people investing a huge chunk of their lives in education. If a new brand of coffee and it's horrible, you can just try a different brand. A college student doesn't have the same luxury.

Most companies and hilariously the owners have a policy to not hire these graduates.

These schools have high pressure sale teams who target the bottom of the barrel or the clueless leaving the tax payer on the hook for defaulted loans.

Its no different than scammers who target the elderly or children with false claims.

> they are defrauding their students by calling themselves Universities

Yes, that is what I think

Okay, if that's the case, then taking them to court for fraud and stripping them of their accreditation would indeed be reasonable.

They usually form a fake accredation system owned by a private entity recognized by no one but themselves in the same corporate umbrella.

As to why theyre ellegible for student loans (unlike most code bootcamps)....excessive lobbying.

Hence why their credits rarely transfer to other schools.

The two big differences are that (most) private universities are accredited by some recognized body, meaning your degree from a private university will be recognized as valid by other universities if you want to transfer or continue your education somewhere else. Most for-profit schools are not accredited and thus their degree isn't recognized by other universities.

The second difference is one of structure. For-profit universities are, well, for-profit companies, meaning their top priority is to hit earning targets and satisfy shareholders, many of whom may very well put their own short term financial interests ahead of the long term well being of the school or its students. Private universities tend to be set up as non-profit trusts, answerable to a board of trustees who's priorities should be more aligned with the long term reputation and well being of the school.

Of course this is all on some sort of sliding scale and there may very well be well-run accredited for profit schools with share-holders with a long term vision for the school and there are no doubt terribly run private universities with trustees whom try to use their position to wring out personal profits. But that is the basic gist of it.

ITT is accredited by an organization recognized by the US Department of Education. It's a shitty accreditation, but it's there. (Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools)

Good point. I guess I should have said reputable accreditation. From ACICS's Wikipedia page:

"the U.S. Department of Education formally recommended that the accreditor's recognition be withdrawn. (June 15th 2016)"

So I guess they won't be accredited for long.

.... so what's the problem? Serious question. Seems like things are working as they should.

The problem is that the government allowed the problem to persist for too long before acting. If the government wants to be in the business of approving schools (even if it's only indirectly) it should hold schools to a lot higher standards and move a lot quicker when results start to slip.

For better or worse when people see "Approved by The US Department of Education" they have (perhaps unreasonable) expectations that that means something.

I think it's important to distinguish that the government should not be directly approving of universities. Instead they should approve professional accreditation organizations that manage their own standards (which is what they do). In no circumstances do we want elected politicians to be legislating what goes into a university degree.

The Department of Education just needs to give a little bit less leeway to low quality accreditors. (and even then, the decisions should be made by career bureaucrats led by an appointed secretary, not by legislation)

Its actually pretty common for legit training programs with decent acredation to get bought out by these shady operators and then run the school at lower standards.

I once looked at art Institute and each campus location varied greatly in accreditation.

California has an incredible quantity of private schools, and not a few of of them are high performing.

> high performing private schools

This is not how I'd categorize ITT.

I agree. But with the tendency towards political attacks on for-profit education, the OP's question was quite reasonable.

I agree that a lot of post-secondary institutions in the US push students into irresponsible loans. If you measure program quality in terms of employability, some others may mislead students students as to program quality too. If you measure program quality by pace and depth, MIT has an objectively higher program quality than most public universities which generally have a higher program quality than most community colleges.

This metric is a gradient which can be used to rank undergraduate educations. ITT Tech falls below the vast majority of other institutions by this metric. If this were not the case, credits from ITT Tech would easily transfer to other institutions. Beyond that, they are in danger of losing their accreditation. This suggests to me that their already low standards have been declining in recent years and look unlikely to improve.

The problem may be precisely that it is a trade school presenting itself as a college. If it were actually a college, the program quality would be higher. If it were presenting itself as a trade school it wouldn't be misleading its students about program quality.

These institutes charge excessively high fees for poor education....and funnel that money into more marketing, lobbying, or investor pockets.

These institutes typically recruit anyone eligible for a government student loan and lobby hard for the ability to recieve them.

When the student fails (common), the school keeps the loan and the student owes the feds. If he graduates, the school still wins becuase they spead very little on education unlike a traditional non-profit.

Its a textbook definition of a con game.

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