Fact Book Shows Career Colleges Offer Advantages to Minorities, Low-Income Students

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Career College News

By Robert L. Martin

Career colleges have a tremendous impact on the labor force. They also provide an educational option for students who decide to follow a path other than the route to a traditional college or university. These are facts proponents of career colleges have always believed to be true. For years, though, the Imagine America Foundation (IAF) has produced its annual Fact Book, giving statistical weight to what were once merely claims. Several interesting statistics are found in this year’s Fact Book, including:

  • The career college sector is more likely than the non-profit sector to serve students who are independent, have incomes in the lowest quartile, have parents with an education below the high school level, and are racial or ethnic minorities
  • Nearly 43 percent of career college students are minorities, a 4 percent rise from a year ago
  • 38 percent of degrees conferred at career colleges were to minorities, compared to 19 percent at public and 16 percent at private not-for-profit institutions
  • Career colleges made up four of the top 10 institutions awarding MBAs to minorities, with half of those producing minority doctorates in business

So, what factors are encouraging the rise in enrollment for minority and low-income students in career colleges? How about the nature of career colleges themselves? Career schools and colleges continue to provide an important educational resource for students who have a strong interest in preparing for an occupation. And, depending on the student’s needs, they offer distinct advantages over other types of schools.

First, there is a strong connection between training and job requirements, which is a factor that appeals to a host of students from different backgrounds. Second, there is the hands-on aspect of the educational experience. Many students do better with concrete learning instead of the more abstract learning offered by many other colleges. And third, the career college experience is purposeful and structured to be efficient. Students can move through their educational experience quicker than they typically could at traditional colleges or universities.

Most students find the speed at which education is delivered and the direct connection between the training and the job to be motivating. Many students can get frustrated and lose interest in their education without an obvious connection between what they are learning and what they need for an occupation. Finally, the biggest cost students have when going to college is the lost wages, or opportunity costs. This is especially important for low-income students. The shorter time to degree available to students in career colleges is a critical consideration for students with limited resources.

Want to learn more about career college information from the 2008 Fact Book? Contact Kerry Turner at kerryt@imagine-america.org or 202.336.6711 today!