For-profit graduates 22% less likely to be contacted by employers

Study sheds light on employer preferences in the labor market

A new study conducted by a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education says graduates of for-profit schools are less likely to receive callbacks from employers when applying for jobs in health care and business.

Previous research found that graduates of for-profit colleges face disadvantages in the labor market, but was unable to isolate whether the effects were caused by their degree alone. The latest research, led by professor David Deming, used fictitious resumes—differentiated by the post-secondary institution listed—to isolate the effect of having attended a for-profit college on employers' response rate to applications.

Students with degrees from large, online for-profit colleges were 22% less likely to be contacted by employers in response to an application.

However, Deming says, he was most surprised to learn that having a degree—from any type of institution—gave no advantage to applicants for a job that does not require a degree. He suggests employers may be hesitant to contact overqualified individuals, perceiving them as less likely to want the job.

Deming says he doesn't see anything inherently wrong with the expansion of for-profit institutions, but argues his research should prompt policy makers to think more holistically. "As long as you focus on full quality, full access to the public, and full research," he says, then it's less important "whether you are a for-profit or a non-profit" (Lu, Harvard Crimson, 10/14).

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