Doing Our Homework on For-Profit Colleges
December 10, 2009 9:39 AM   Subscribe

How does one evaluate the various for-profit colleges?

A beloved adult family member who has not completed any significant education since high school is considering a career path in some aspect of pharmacy services. The intention is to first obtain a pharmacy technician certificate to allow interim work, which seems to be available primarily from various for-profit colleges (such as Lincoln Tech, etc.).

I've read many, many articles about for-profit colleges, including the more recent headlining news about the woman who sued her for-profit college for failure to live up to marketing promises such as guaranteed job-placement assistance. I recognize that there are no US News & World Report-esque rankings, and therefore I am trying to get a sense of whether any of these types of schools stand out as more reputable than others. If anyone happens to have a recommendation, it would be appreciated, but is not the main thrust of this question. Do we look to the Better Business Bureau? How do we best analyze the marketing claims? The goal is to find a reputable, basic, pharmacy tech program that will include useful job placement assistance; then to return to more formal schooling to further the professional credentials to a higher level.

We are in Pennsylvania, and have examined our state's licensing application. We are also using the resources available at (the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board). So we are doing our homework, but I thought I would reach out for some insight on how to evaluate the different schools.
posted by bunnycup to Education (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
- are they accredited

By the way, pharmacy tech certifications should be available at local community colleges; at least they are here.
posted by downing street memo at 9:50 AM on December 10, 2009

every study ever done has shown the quality is higher and the costs lower at community colleges

If you insist on enriching one of the biggest scams perptrated upon American taxpayers I'd care about accrediation and graduation and placement rate. The schools should be able to tell you this. At a minimum if they are public they are in 10-k's. Basically the way a for-profit school kills itself economically is they have too many people flunk out and default on the loans - which makes them ineligible for federal loan programs.
posted by JPD at 10:03 AM on December 10, 2009

Best answer: Community college for sure.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:08 AM on December 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: I think it is a great example of the scam nature of the for-profit colleges, that every search we did for pharmacy tech certifications turned up for-profit schools only and not the community college course (example). I had looked for the course (linked by fxg, and thank you) on our local CC's website but could not find it. That combined with the lists showing for-profit colleges only made me concerned that those were our only option. Far from being insistent on 'on enriching one of the biggest scams perptrated upon American taxpayers,' I asked this question because I am deeply wary of those schools. Thanks!
posted by bunnycup at 10:27 AM on December 10, 2009

CC is the way to go. And if you're checking on the interim certificate issue, be sure the school is REGIONALLY accredited. You can look this up on websites like College Source ( Typically, only regionally accredited schools insure that credits will transfer to other standard institutions.
posted by daphne at 12:34 PM on December 10, 2009

Best answer: If you haven't already, please make an appointment at your local PA Workforce Development office. They workforce development professionals there can help your relative get career counseling and job skills training as well as sort of the options for education. If your relative is out of work or is seeking to make a career change, comes from a low-income situation, is a veteran, has limited work experience, etc. there may be free training available through the Workforce Development office. It really is worth a visit and appointment with an intake worker to see if he/she will qualify for any assistance, which could include tuition vouchers or grants.
posted by FergieBelle at 12:34 PM on December 10, 2009

I work for a private college but would by default recommend the CC; as a blanket judgment, they're the obvious choice, as with the private school it would all come down to the individual school.

That said, of the programs offered by our school, pharm tech seems to produce the most happy and successful students (I'm acquainted with one outside of the campus, and she was very quickly placed in a job she enjoys). I think your safest route (and this comes from my previous experience as a vocational researcher for a State agency) is to contact an individual with the licensing board and run the school's name by them. Somebody there should be familiar with licensing apps coming from the school, at least if it's been around for more than a few months.
posted by dervish at 1:53 PM on December 10, 2009

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