College, Inc. — a television documentary about for-profit colleges

In a recent article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Goldie Blumenstyk provides a balanced and in-depth look at the TV documentary College, Inc., which aired last night on PBS. Those who missed it on Tuesday can watch it online here.

The for-profit college industry, at $18 billion annually, is garnering lots of media attention, not least because of its size and reach: 11 percent of today’s college students are enrolled at for-profit institutions.

Blumenstyk notes that College, Inc. “touches too lightly on the education that actually goes on in the classrooms,” but on the whole she finds much of merit in the documentary:

“… the program’s weaknesses are mitigated by the context the producers provide. They remind viewers, for example, that the sector is diverse and that it is difficult to assess the quality of the colleges’ degrees because across all of higher education, ‘there’s no standard measure.’ They also show that the for-profit industry owes some of its recent success to the current political and economic climate.”

Justin Snider