The true test of any industry is whether it lives up to the initial impression it has made on the public, or lives it down. This applies especially to the private for-profit higher education industry, which came on like gangbusters with the tech boom but has since come to resemble more crooks to be busted.
Yet as rigidly deterministic as first impressions tend to be, they're not irreversible. Enough sustained effort directed to proper ends can do a lot to rehabilitate even the most tarnished reputation.
It appears that some major for-profit universities are finding that their efforts in this direction are indeed paying off. "In a study of 449 human resource professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management released in September indicates that 87-percent regard online degrees in a more favorable light than they did merely five years ago," a September 21, 2011 Technorati article reports. "Degrees from top online universities were viewed even more favorably."
One of the biggest criticisms leveled at the for-profits is that their recruiting method makes student-loan default a fait accompli. Some of the biggest players in the industry – Kaplan University and University of Phoenix are two – have voluntarily taken steps to mend their ways.
This ways-mending has come in the form a "Responsible Conduct standard," which contains several stipulations intended to dispel the fume of illegitimacy that clings to the industry.
Specifically, these new standards mean that:
These reforms are encouraging, and they are sure to prove simply the beginning of more to come as for-profits make a bid for esteem and legitimacy on par with that of public and nonprofit private colleges and universities.