Degrees From For-Profit Colleges Equally Effective

A college's for-profit status doesn't really matter — at least not compared to a community college.

According to a new working paper from the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research, employers don't view graduates of for-profit schools like the University of Pheonix or ITT Education any better or worse than graduates of a community college with the same qualifications.

What's more, listing an associate's degree or a certificate from a for-profit college gives a candidate no real advantage over someone who didn't go to college altogether, the paper concluded.

The paper's findings were reported earlier this week by The Wall Street Journal.

For-profit schools, which have been under the microscope in recent years, generally charge more for tuition than community colleges. To reach the conclusions in their paper, the researchers from the University of Missouri and RAND submitted close to 9,000 fictitious resumes for job postings in Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle and four other citices in 2013 and 2014, the Journal report said.

The so-called applicants attended randomly selected local for-profit or public community colleges and high schools, vying for positions in sales, customer service, IT, medical assiting and billing and administrative support.

Companies responded to community-college graduates with a call or e-mail 11.6 percent of the time, compared with 11.3 percent for for-profit colleges, the Journal report said.

The paper's findings come as for-profit schools are increasingly under the gun for the large amount of debt taken on by their students relative to their effectiveness at helping them find a job.