Late last week I read an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education regarding the U.S. Department of Education's proposed changes, regarded to as 'tweaked' changes, to existing regulations that will affect for-profit institutions in higher ed. The article states that many people in higher ed are calling the proposed changes as too aggresive. Not surprisingly, it is advocates and admissions offices from traditional institutions who have "urged the department to do away with the safe harbors, arguing that the exemptions, which allow colleges to pay enrollment-based commissions under certain circumstances, encourage recruiters to sign up unqualified students" (Gonzalez, 2009).
Having never been employed in an enrollment department at a college or university, I have worked directly with enrollment and the students they recruit into degree programs from the perspective of student services, academic advising and, in the past nine years, as a faculty member. I have seen and head of aggressive and unethical practices on the part of enrollment staff and as a faculty member, have worked with students who clearly are not prepared for or qualified to be a college student.
By sharing this, I'm not knocking the enrollment/admissions department of any institution. On the contrary, colleges and universities must rely on the department, referred to as the 'bread and butter' of the institution by many, to recruit, qualify and prepare individuals for their college path. In my experience, I have also worked with many ethical, selfless, education-focused and education leaders whose primary goal is to help individuals better their lives by enrolling in college. Many of my colleagues, who I worked with in their early years in enrollment, are now managers, directors and executive leaders of many higher ed institutions - for-profit and not-for-profit.
This is where I'm torn. Unfortunately, I have seen the repercussions of ineffective enrollment staff on the back-end of a students educational experience with a university. I've heard stories of credits promised, shortened time for degree completion, recommendations for mis-use of Title IV funding, etc. While not the majority of what I've witnessed and experienced, it has been enough for me to understand and know this is an issue that does need guidelines. Although I'm not sure I would trust representatives from traditional institutions to be the driving force behind the changes of the safe harbors. It will be interesting to see how this pans out.
Article --> Officials of For-Profit Colleges See Department's Proposed Rule Changes as 'Aggressive'
Gonzalez, J. (2009, Dec. 1). Officials of For-Profit Colleges See Department's Proposed Rule Changes as 'Aggressive'. Retrieved December 6, 2009 at http://chronicle.com/article/For-Profit-Colleges-See/49305/