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A Little Help, Please

By Rick Rogers

The term “for-profit schools” and its freighted definition as “profit-seeking businesses” have always seemed crudely misleading and somewhat unfair.

Sounds like only the University of Phoenix’s and the Kaplan University’s of the world are interested in filthy lucre while non-profit universities are above the whole money-for-education thing.

The snob-text suggests non-profits are sainted, magnanimous ventures unconcerned with the bottom line, while for-profits are the corner-cutting loan-sharking flimflammers of the academic world.

Yeah, that must be why 9-months graduate school at Northwestern University only took me 10 years to payoff.

But beyond blooming perceptions that scrutiny wilts, there are valid concerns surrounding for-profit programs, especially where veterans are concerned.

Are they worth the cost? Why the high default rates? Do employers consider them equal to degrees from brick-and-mortar schools that often cost less? Or community or junior colleges that often cost much, much less?

Are veterans opting for online schooling getting the socialization they need to succeed in the civilian work world? How many veterans are running through their educational benefits with nothing to show for it?

I have dark doubts.

I’ve never taken an online class.  I don’t think they existed during the technological ice age when I schooled.  And the closest I’ve come to a for-profit institution is whizzing past one just off Interstate 15.

But their proxies are no strangers to me, and I eye them wearily.

I cannot remember attending a single veterans meeting of consequence in recent years that did not hold at least one rep from Ashford or Argosy or Phoenix or Kaplan.

Not only are they attending these meetings, but they are also shaping veterans’ employment policy here in San Diego County by often holding key positions on volunteer committees.

I don’t know what to make of this.

In un-Christian moments they appear nothing more than Trojan Horses committed to no greater glory than gaining an ‘in” to pillage pockets for GI Bill gold.

Consider that every veteran they recruit is worth $50,000 to them.

But truth is no one else is volunteering to take these reins, and I cannot with certainty divine their motives.

Then there is the question of individual rights. Don’t veterans deserve to decide where their education money goes, whether those decisions are good, bad or indifferent? Much good can come from making bad decisions.

Who is the government or a columnist, for that matter, to impugn such decisions or the institutions they chose?

So, I want to hear from you. What are your experiences with online classes and degree programs?  Email me at and let me know.

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