Published on 2012/08/30

Comparing Student Services at For-Profit and Not-for-Profit Institutions

The EvoLLLution | Comparing Student Services at For-Profit and Not-for-Profit Institutions
With increasing numbers of adult students enrolling in higher education—both at non-profit and for-profit institutions—colleges and universities must ensure they provide all-around student support services to learners. Photo by Pressmaster.

I have had the pleasure of working both in the for-profit and traditional higher learner environments and through my experience I have learned that Student Services has a different meaning and purpose depending on the organization.  Student Services in a for-profit organization usually operates under the mission to retain students through providing personal and professional development, counseling.  Student Services as it pertains to traditional or non-profit settings usually encompasses Career Services, Admissions, Academic Advising, and Registrar.

While in the employ of MedTech, a for-profit technical medical school, I served as a counselor and guide to students who were first generation college students, older and middle-aged adult learners, and those who have been displaced in the workforce through downsizings and lay-offs.  These were people who never imagined they would have to get a college education in order to procure a job.  Due to the change in the economy jobs are not as secure and far and few between to find.  These were students who were pursuing a degree that often did not have the means to go to school.  They did not have transportation, homes, jobs, finances, families that supported them and it was my job to help them in these areas.  I could help the student create a budget, give them a bus pass, help the look for work.  I also tutored them in their studies.  My main function was to ensure that MedTech retained the student.

The traditional and non-profit schools in my area fit the above description for Student Services as the culmination of Admissions, Career Services, Academic Advising and Registrar.  While these departments help students with their educational and professional development they do not usually assist students to remain in school through offering tutoring, mentoring, transportation assistance or personal counseling.

More and more adult learners are attending traditional schools; as such there is a greater demand for traditional and non-profit schools to accommodate the busy lives and careers of their adult students and to offer some non-traditional additional services.  Because of this trend, I am not sure that either for-profits or non-profits and traditional schools could stake a claim on offering a better Student Services system.  However,  it is my opinion that traditional and non-profit schools have more complete Student Services offering, they are missing that one component that at this time in our economy they need to add if they have not already; a component of student services that provides all-around support to the student, as they do within the for-profit schools.

In conclusion, times are changing and with that the student in colleges and universities—whether traditional, non-profit or for-profit—are changing as well.  As such, it would be sensible for all higher education institutions to stay with the times and offer services that are pertinent to the retaining and eventually graduating of their students.

Student Services in my opinion is one of the most important departments on any campus… as long as it serves all the needs of the students.

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Readers Comments

Rhonda White 2012/08/30 at 8:15 pm

I actually think the comparison is the other way around; I think students get much better personal services (childcare, accessibility to community services, counselling) from for-profit institutions and better academic services from not-for-profits and public institutions.

This actually makes sense when you think about it; the for-profits are more focused on ensuring students have a good experience while attending the for-profit and feel nurtured and cared for, while NFPs and public institutions are focusing on the academic journey of their students.

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