The Miami Herald: Don’t dismiss value of career colleges

The Miami Herald

Letters to the Editor:

Don’t dismiss value of career colleges

By: Kathy Mizereck

Re the June 16 story Students, lawmakers question value of for-profit colleges: Career colleges have an important role in education and continue to be appealing choices for many students. In Florida, more than 370,000 students attend 900 licensed schools because they offer flexible schedules and real-world applied learning. In the healthcare field alone, more than 60 percent of the state’s credentialed graduates in 2009 — nurses, technicians, medical assistants — came from career colleges. Career college two-year degree programs successfully graduate 59 percent of their students compared to the 23-percent graduate rate in community-college degree programs.

Higher education is costly, and when student debt is analyzed based on income level, default rates are substantially the same across all institutions — whether public or private, nonprofit or for-profit. The higher percentage of defaults at career colleges is because of the population of students served: working adults with minimal family support seeking to improve their lives.

It may cost less to attend taxpayer-supported public schools, but career colleges do not receive taxpayer subsidies.

Students who choose to enroll in career colleges do so because they want to be trained and job-ready when they graduate. Our career-focused programs play a vital role in Florida’s postsecondary education system and are the chosen path to independence and advancement for hundreds of thousands of Floridians every day.

Kathy Mizereck, executive director, Florida Association of Postsecondary Schools and Colleges, Tallahassee

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