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FRONTLINE: College Inc.

Correspondent: Martin Smith , Produced by Chris Durrance and John Maggio  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Correspondent: Martin Smith
  • Directors: Produced by Chris Durrance and John Maggio
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: July 20, 2010
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B003J7HOAK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,994 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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Editorial Reviews

The business of higher education is booming. It s a $400 billion industry fueled by taxpayer money. But what are students getting out of the deal? Critics say a worthless degree and a mountain of debt. Investors insist they re innovators, widening access to education. FRONTLINE follows the money to uncover how Wall Street and a new breed of for-profit universities are transforming the way we think about college in America.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quality reporting (as expected) August 15, 2010
Essential viewing for anyone looking at post-secondary schooling.

I watched this when it aired last Spring (2010). I've seen lots of advertisements for various "cool" majors (like music production, video game designer, etc). The program was a sobering, cautionary tale for those seeking higher education outside the ivory tower.
I'm personally not a huge fan of higher ed myself (despite having a couple of degrees - I think apprenticeship/hands-on training is better), but I am very irked by the prospect of companies preying on would-be students and burying them in debt. I recall commenting to my girlfriend (who is in vet school) that it was probably more expensive to do a vet tech program here (at the for profit school) than she was paying at the UW (to become a veterinarian). Sure enough, it was well over $20k per year (while she pays $16k). This compares to $7-8k for the (longer established and accredited) vet tech program at the local community/tech college.
I guess my question is why the for-profit institutions charge so much (especially if a sizable chunk of the coursework is online). Perhaps the answer is that people are willing to pay (or loan) money for it. So much for the idea of competition driving prices down.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! November 27, 2012
The bulk of this video centers around following Michael Clifford, credited with leading the first regionally accredited non-profit university to convert to a for-profit company. For-profit colleges flourish despite charging 5-6X community college rates and double university rates because community colleges and universities are not meeting the demand for higher education.

The two dominant players are the University of Phoenix with almost 600,000 students in 2010 (30% drop in 2011) and EDMC (Education Management Corporation - The Art Institutes, Argosy University, Brown Mackie College, and South University) with 132,000 students. Grand Canyon University, a small Christian school, is an example of Clifford's activity - he bought and made it a for-profit, with about 40,000 current students - 90% on-line.

The video does a good job of remaining neutral, yet pointing out controversial aspects of for-profit colleges. One finding is that they spend on 10 - 20% of total expenditures on teaching, and 25% on marketing. Another that they'll take about anyone, qualified or not, simply to qualify them for a government loan - the University of Phoenix has been documented enrolling homeless off the street; as a result, student default rates among for-profit colleges are far higher than traditional schools. Still another - they spend considerable monies on lobbying Congress, eg. opposing rules that would make them more accountable for their much higher dropout and default rates. (Unfortunately, the Obama administration also needs their participation to meet its goal of substantially increasing the proportion of college graduates within the U.S. - thus creating an impediment to strict regulation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
College Inc. is a subjective look into the seedier side of the for profit college system. Both the defenders and its critics are interviewed about the merits of the for-profit educational system and, in the end, the viewer can make up their own mind about the subject. But the evidence clearly shows that for-profits have very little value; is unaccredited, which means these credits don't transfer to state colleges; has a poor quality education and often times costs far more to attend these colleges than it does a state college and a community college; and the quality of the education is often times very questionable. For instance, three nursing students Martha, Nora and Susan went to the for-profit Everest College. They never set foot in a hospital during their time there and their education mainly consisted of learning about The Church of Scientology's Evils of Psychiatry. Another sad case is of one Ann Cobb, a 35-year old divorced woman, who is knee deep in $60,000 in student loans and only makes $8,000 a year on food stamps. Even after graduating, she still hasn't been able to find a job and can't pay off her loans.

Other problems with the for-profits are pressure tactics used by recruiters to get as many people to sign up. The more people they get to sign up the more money they make so they sign just about any person off of the street without discriminating whether this person is a worthwhile college student. I would recommend this film to any and all students who are thinking about going to a for-profit and urge them to reconsider it. If a students defaults on their loans, the federal government will hound them until it is all paid back and it can't be discharged in bankruptcy. The man who expanded the for-profit and made it what it is today, Michael Clifford, never went to college, has a past history of cocaine and marijuana abuse and converted to Christianity to show what a humanitarian he is. But I can see through the facade.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
College, Inc. is an episode of the documentary public television Frontline on DVD, examining the dark side of for-profit colleges and universities. Such colleges sell shares to Wall Street investors rather than seeking donations from wealthy alumni, and charge high fees to accept students that the (usually cheaper) nonprofit schools often won't take. But what do those who pay the high tuition costs of for-profit colleges, and take on heavy debt, have to show for their efforts? Can the degrees obtained be reliably used to get a job and earn a living? Frontline examines all sides of the issue, in this thought-provoking documentary about how a new trend in higher education is literally transforming college in America. 60 minutes, widescreen, closed-captioned.
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