Kind of an interesting article in The Washington Monthly, “America’s Worst Colleges” by Ben Miller. Here are a long quote from the beginning:
… [T]he truth is that students choosing among selective schools are making largely inconsequential decisions. Whether it’s a northeastern private college, a well-regarded midwestern public institution, or some other school rich with financial and reputational resources, any option will provide students with what really matters: overwhelmingly high odds of graduating from a well-recognized college. For them, even the dreaded “safety school” is likely still a better option than the best choice available to large numbers of students.
Less-fortunate students, by contrast, are often forced to choose among the many colleges that get lumped into broad lower tiers on best colleges lists, or from private for-profit colleges that are not even ranked at all. Many of these colleges are dropout factories, where students are unlikely to graduate and prices, debt levels, and student loan default rates are high. For these students, the crucial question is where not to go to college. When you’re wandering through a minefield with destructive options that lead to high loan debt and no degree, it’s worth having a map.
Yet the newsstands don’t sell guides to America’s worst colleges. Nobody writes stories about high school seniors beset with anxiety about whether to attend a community college with a rock-bottom graduation rate, a nearby private college with shaky finances, or a shady for-profit institution.
Miller goes on and explains a couple of different categories of “the worst colleges,” all of which are either for-profit or private institutions– no public universities or colleges are on the list. I think there are ways to quibble with the way that Miller categorizes things here, but it’s an interesting list. And frankly, it’s the worst colleges (along with fly-by-night bartending schools and hairstyling “academies” and the like) that are the real problem with dropout rates and students not finishing and then defaulting in huge piles of student loan debt.