Four Lessons from a For-Profit University Graduate

Last month, I wrote this piece for Forbes talking about what I learned as a for-profit university graduate.

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Photo credit: Reno Gazette-Journal

I graduated from Morrison University in Reno, Nevada in 2006. Morrison University had been in the Reno area for more than 100 years. My professors were respected professionals, including one who served on the Nevada State Board of Accountancy. Many of my classmates were working professionals with years of experience in their fields who’d been told by their managers that they couldn’t rise any higher in the company without a diploma.

Morrison University made sense. They offered an accelerated program and the option for all evening classes to accommodate a full-time job. Shortly after I enrolled, Morrison was purchased by the now-defunct Anthem Education. In 2014, Morrison University closed its doors.

My experience at a for-profit school was a good one. I’d struggled to get the classes I needed at the University of Nevada Reno for years. It was not possible to work a full-time 9 to 5 job and get a bachelor’s degree in accounting at UNR. Morrison University allowed me to transfer the credits I’d earned and finish up my degree in two years.

Unfortunately, my experience is not the norm. Many for-profit universities have lied to students, encouraging them to rack up tens of thousands of dollars for degrees that are worthless.

Yet I believe for-profit universities have a purpose. They serve a population that for whatever reason is not served by state universities and community colleges. I hope that sharing my experience can help other students considering a for-profit university know what questions to ask and how to recognize those universities that put their bottom line ahead of students’ education.

I hope change comes for for-profit universities so they can continue to provide an alternative for non-traditional students. I hope more people who have had positive experiences with for-profit universities can talk about them so we can remove the stigma of a for-profit degree.

Have you had an experience at a for-profit university? What are your thoughts?

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