For-profit colleges and trade schools are the fastest-growing sector of education in the United States. A for-profit or proprietary college is any post-secondary school that is run by a private business for profit.
Also known as career colleges, for-profit trade schools offer a range of programs for one purpose — to arm students with professional-level skills for the ever-competitive job market. The main difference between for-profit and non-profit colleges is that the former rely on profits for funding, as opposed to donations or government handouts. For-profit colleges also have to pay taxes.
Essentially, these are the four major types of higher education in America:
- For-profit (Proprietary) Colleges: Specializes in job-related training, pays taxes, and relies on profits for funding.
- Private (Non-profit) Colleges: Receives tax exemptions and usually affiliated with religious subsets.
- Public (Non-profit) Colleges: Funded and operated by state government.
- Community Colleges: Funded by state jurisdiction. Mostly for two-year associate degrees but some offer four-year bachelor’s degree programs.
For-profit trade schools often take more innovative strides in training students and launching them into the workforce. With their growing reputation for helping students land employment opportunities, the best for-profit colleges have become an increasingly popular choice among today’s students. Keep reading to discover the eight main advantages of attending a for-profit trade school.
Why Choose a Trade School?
If you are debating your higher education options, check out the top eight reasons to consider a trade school:
1. For-Profit Trade Schools Build Partnerships With Decision-Makers and Help Students Succeed in the Job Market
Career colleges have an exceptional ability to build relationships with the decision-makers in today’s job market. Students who attend a for-profit trade school will often find access to internships and other unique employment opportunities while transitioning from college life into the workforce. By connecting students with professional networking opportunities, for-profit colleges set their students up for success.
The way programs are structured at for-profit colleges plays a large role in allowing students to network. The following aspects of for-profit college programs enable students to make key connections:
- Skilled instructors: Most for-profit college courses are taught by skilled instructors who are professionals themselves. Forming connections with these instructors can give students a leg-up in their field by providing valuable industry connections.
- Peer interactions: For-profit college programs also encourage more peer-to-peer interactions because they generally have smaller class sizes. Getting to know their classmates instantly supplies students with industry connections that may help them later in their careers.
- Career services: Due to their numerous connections to local industries, for-profit colleges tend to have superb career services and employment assistance programs. A for-profit college may provide students services such as resume building, cover letter writing, and interview practice.
Considering the extent to which most fields have become competitive, the improved prospects from which graduates are known to benefit have been a testament to the educational quality of such institutions.
2. For-Profit Trade Schools Have the Scalability and Flexibility to Adjust Programs for Expected Job Growth and Trends
Career colleges stay updated on the flow of the job market. As such, for-profits know which fields have growing opportunities, which fields are in decline, and which fields are likely to expand in the near future. Best of all, for-profit trade schools cater their programs accordingly. They expand programs and departments in areas of study that are in high demand among employers and curb areas of study that yield little or no demand.
This stands in contrast to regular colleges, where many a tenured professor will go on teaching certain disciplines for years — sometimes even decades — after their sell-by date in the real world. At best, adaption to trends in the job market is slow in the departments of traditional non-profit colleges, where unsuspecting students are often encouraged to major in fields of study that do not translate to employability.
By staying on top of where the job market is heading, for-profit trade schools are at the forefront of offering courses in newer, burgeoning fields — many of which are simply not established at regular colleges. Trade schools provide certificates and degrees for today’s most in-demand jobs. These up-to-date programs supply students with a relevant skill set that can make them more marketable and desirable to employers. This adaptability makes for-profit colleges the better choice for applicants who are serious about gaining skills for in-demand, lucrative fields.
3. For-Profit Trade Schools Offer an Education Model Based on Competency Instead of Duration
For-profit trade schools do far more than develop partnerships with employment programs. There is also an effort among for-profit institutions to place the emphasis of an education on student competency, as opposed to seat time.
This change marks a drastic shift from traditional education models, where the emphasis is typically placed on the amount of time that a student spends studying a particular topic. In the for-profit sector, there is an understanding that credit hours alone do not necessarily equal value in the eyes of employers. When it comes to the job market, things like skills, knowledge, and competency are the true assets that enable applicants to land work.
At for-profit colleges, methods to make teaching more efficient are constantly in development. These methods ensure students gain the skills that are needed to turn degrees into bona fide credentials for the job market.
With those criteria in place, students who attend for-profit colleges and trade schools graduate with credit hours and by demonstrating professional-level skills in their chosen area. Since the emphasis is on skill-building, the most gifted students at for-profit institutions can gain the skills needed in far less time than they would at a regular college. By developing a competency-based educational model, the best for-profit trade schools create a win-win situation for all parties involved — the schools, the students, and the employment bodies looking for new talent.
With their growing reputation for skill-based curriculum, career colleges are increasingly viewed as the most ideal of breeding grounds for new talent among prospective employers. Furthermore, the competency-based model helps students learn at their own pace and also allows for-profits to graduate individuals in a timelier manner, thus freeing up class slots for newer enrollees while fast-learning students land lucrative positions sooner in life.
The for-profit competency model creates a learning infrastructure in which students are developed as individuals. This model is a refreshing contrast to the square-peg mindset of traditional non-profit learning institutions. This contrast — coupled with the growing wave of criticism toward accreditation in regular schools — is gradually positioning for-profit colleges as a preferable alternative to non-profit colleges.
4. For-Profit Trade Schools Use Less Funding From Taxpayers Than Public and Not-For-Profit Schools
Some people say that too many tax dollars are being swallowed up by schools, welfare, and entitlement programs. Others would say that taxes, while sometimes annoying, are necessary to support basic infrastructures, such as roads, bridges, parks, sidewalks, and garbage collection.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue of taxation, it is worth noting that for-profit schools are not less reliant on funding from taxpayers than not-for-profit colleges. In a study conducted by Georgetown University researcher Robert J. Shapiro and economist Nam D. Pham, it was found that for-profit colleges take less than a third as much government funds as schools in the public and non-profit sectors. Some for-profit trade schools, like Vista College, take no direct government funding.
5. Trade Schools Provide Hands-On Learning in Specialized Fields
One of the biggest advantages of attending a trade school is getting to take exciting courses that apply directly to your career. Instead of wasting time and money taking general courses on subjects like math, English, and science, you will begin learning essential information for your profession immediately.
The curriculum caters to your career interests and gives you practical, hands-on training for your field. Your instructor will walk you through interactions with equipment and situations you will likely encounter in your field. By taking classes designed to prepare you for the workforce, you can graduate knowing what it takes to be successful in your career.
At a trade school, you can take courses relevant to specialized fields like these:
- Construction technology
- Construction management
- Electrical technician
- Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC)
- Trades management
- Industrial maintenance
Gaining hands-on training in these fields from highly qualified instructors can give you a competitive advantage within your career. You can leave your trade school program knowing how to operate relevant equipment safely and effectively.
6. For-Profit Trade Schools Produce More Graduates Than Non-Profit Colleges and Universities
In comparison to non-profit colleges, for-profit trade schools turn out a greater number of graduating students on a year-by-year basis. According to data compiled by the U.S. Education Department, students who have a lack of high school diploma, for example, are only 17 percent as likely to earn an associate or bachelor’s degree as students who have their high school diplomas. At for-profit colleges, students without a high school diploma are 24 percent as likely to earn two or four-year degrees.
Trade schools typically have far smaller class sizes than traditional colleges, which makes it easier for students to receive more individualized attention from their instructors. Receiving this extra attention helps students fully develop their skill set and prepare for entering the workforce. Smaller classes also mean stronger bonds with classmates and the opportunity to form supportive study groups.
Having these resources available can make it easier for those who dropped out of high school or are going back to school to earn a degree. Such people will often enroll in college to update their skill sets and to stay competitive amidst rising standards within their industries. For many of these people, the objective is twofold — to hold up their end among younger, more educated talent and to stay on top of newer, potentially disruptive technologies.
In any case, such people could account for a growing segment of students at for-profit trade schools in the years ahead. As career colleges develop improved methods for helping attendees who do not fit the conventional student profile, there should be a rising number of first-time graduates who did not enter college right after completing high school.
7. For-Profit Trade Schools Can Provide Better Education Because They Are Disciplined by the Job Market
The success of any school primarily relies on the ability of its staff to help the vast majority of its students complete their degrees. Without that cycle of success, a school will gain a poor reputation in the marketplace and ultimately close its doors.
For-profit trade colleges and trade schools have strived to prove themselves amidst the fierce completion of not-for-profit and public schools. At for-profit colleges, the objective is to see students actually succeed in the job market with the skills and knowledge they gain from their studies, whether a class takes place in a traditional classroom or online environment. For the students of for-profit trade schools, this unique commitment to skill-building and job-finding is invaluable.
As anyone who has attended a regular college knows, the question of whether employment actually awaits in the outside world can be worrisome throughout a two or four-year degree program. Students at for-profit colleges have an extra level of assurance that other students lack — an added commitment on the part of the school to the post-graduation career prospects of every student who completes their studies.
Of course, it has been somewhat of an uphill battle on the part of for-profits to establish legitimacy in the broader educational marketplace. This reputation is because for-profit schools are a newer type of institution, and therefore lack the prestige that has long been granted to public and non-profit schools.
In many ways, however, this situation is merely a case of history repeating itself. After all, there was once a time when land-grant and community colleges were the new players on the block, and both have since become primary options among millions of students pursuing higher educations.
8. For-Profit Trade Schools Use Up-To-Date Technology and Provide Online Learning Environments
Of all the innovations that for-profit colleges and trade schools have brought to the educational playing field, one of the most important has been the manner in which they have leveraged information technology. With this innovation, for-profit colleges have been able to offer some of the best courses within an online environment — a common setting for many for-profit study programs.
An online program option allows students to start when they want and coordinate their schooling with their busy schedules. Having this flexibility enables students to continue working while taking courses that get them closer to their dream career. Many trade school programs are also shorter than a traditional college semester, making it easier for students to graduate and start their career sooner.
Discover Your Degree Options at Vista College
By staying on top of a mounting list of reasonable demands on the educational front, career colleges can appeal to an ever-growing range of consumers and lawmakers alike. For-profit schools could lose their standing if they do not focus on issues that plague regular colleges, such as soaring student loans, unresolved veteran matters, and the high prevalence of low-paying jobs being handed to graduates nationwide. For-profit trade schools are working to be a leading player on the post-secondary stage.
If you are ready to start your path toward a promising career, check out your degree options at Vista College. Vista College is a for-profit trade school that can arm you with the skill sets and knowledge levels demanded by employers in numerous fields. Day and night, we offer a range of online and on-ground courses for various two and four-year degree programs. With eight campus locations in Texas and New Mexico, Vista is among the nation’s best for-profit colleges.
Explore our degree programs today to learn more about our courses.