For-profit online students drawn by convenience but left 'disappointed'

Students are attracted to for-profit online college programs for their ease of enrollment and help obtaining financial aid, but "are subsequently disappointed with the poor quality of education provided," according to student focus group research published by the Brookings Institution.For-profits enroll an outsized share of students in online-only programs — 22% of online undergrads (compared to 5.4% of all undergrads) and 27% of online graduate students (compared to 8.9% of all graduate students), the authors note. In marketing and recruitment, the colleges target African Americans, women and adult students, and most of the students are out of state.Recent studies have raised questions about the quality of online college programs. The authors found from talking with students of online for-profit programs that "[t]heir hopes of improved financial stability through the pursuit of higher education meet head on with disappointing labor market outcomes and unsustainable levels of student debt."

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