Check Out College, Inc., Tonight on PBS

I’m going to veg out on my couch tonight and watch College, Inc., on my PBS station.

College, Inc., is a FRONTLINE production that explores the explosive and controversial growth of the for-profit higher education industry.

One of the universities profiled in this investigation is the University of Phoenix, which is a darling of Wall Street. University of Phoenix is now the largest university in the country with enrollment approaching 500,000 students.

Many of the students who attend for-profit colleges are also among the most vulnerable. Lots of these students should be attending community colleges, which are so much cheaper. Many students are  sucked into attending for-profit schools through slick marketing.

Here’s what one former employee at a for-profit university based in California said about the intense recruiting: “They used to tell us, you know, ‘Dig deep. Get to their pain. Get to what’s bothering them. So, that way, you can convince them that a college degree is going to solve all their problems.’ ”

The student loan default rate at for-profit universities is frightening. These schools enroll 10% of post-secondary students, but they account for nearly 25% of all federal student aid.

If you watch College, Inc., tonight, don’t choke on your popcorn.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes a college blog for CBSMoneyWatch. Follow her on Twitter.

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