Domestic, For-Profit, Required, University & College - Written by on Monday, August 8, 2011 12:12 - 0 Comments

AP reports U. of Phoenix and Kaplan are improving operations. True?

by Labanex on Flickr under Creative Commons licenseAlan Scher Zagier at The Associated Press wrote a good story from St. Louis, telling us what The University of Phoenix and Kaplan are doing to improve their operations. Here are excerpts from the piece, which ran on and likely many other newspapers around the country:

Zagier describes the working class students at four U. of Phoenix campuses in St. Louis – secretaries, mental health aides, working moms and single dads. The author notes that 1 in 8 American college students study in for-profit colleges either in class or online. Zagier gives background on how Congress is exploring abuses by the schools – ranging from high loan defaults and to exploitive sales pitches to wounded veterans. The private sector’s federal aid money grew to more than $26 billion last year, up from $4.6 billion in 2000.

What are the schools doing about new rules from the Obama administration that could cut off government aid?

The changes are most apparent at the University of Phoenix and its corporate parent, Apollo Group Inc., which, with nearly 400,000 students, ranks atop the industry.

The school has created its own social network, PhoenixConnect, to better link its far-flung students as well as 600,000 alumni who could help those students and graduates find jobs.

The three-week orientation program is now required of all prospective students with fewer than 24 college credits. The company scrapped its financial incentive program for enrollment counselors, and there’s less reliance on outside sales companies to generate leads and more emphasis on finding corporate partners willing to help pay for their employees’ education.

The results have been dramatic. New student enrollment has declined by nearly half, and the company reported $159 million less in net revenue after the first three quarters of fiscal year 2011 compared to the previous year.

Officials expect further enrollment declines and more short-term financial pain but insist the approach will pay off with fewer dropouts, higher graduation rates and lower federal loan default rates.

Here at WiredAcademic, we’d like to here from students, faculty and former employees of University of Phoenix to hear if these trends and programs truly are making a difference. If you have thoughts and details on this, please email us at and let us know if you would like to remain on background or can be named on record.

Meanwhile, at Kaplan University, the AP reports:

Change is also afoot at Kaplan University, which is owned by The Washington Post Co. and serves about 62,000 students. Another 50,000 students study at Kaplan Higher Education career colleges, which focus more on specific trades.

Stung by a series of whistleblower lawsuits and a Florida attorney general’s investigation, Kaplan created a program that allows students to attend classes for four or five weeks before deciding whether to continue. Kaplan also stopped paying incentives to recruiters.

The company reported a 48 percent decline in new enrollments as of April and an attrition rate of 25 percent. Of the latter group, 60 percent are dismissed for lack of academic progress.

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