The College Scam (92%)
What is it with the number "92%"? I've decided over the last month that whenever anyone quotes me a placement rate of "ninety-two percent" that they're most likely being both untruthful and running a scam.
Last week I asked for information about medical coding. I need to work at home and am tired of what I presently do, so I figured a change would be good. I got at least a dozen emails from various people with concrete information about the field. While I was waiting for those emails I did some calling around to various local for-profit career colleges.
It would seem that the world is full of people who are sick of their current job, wish they could make more money and have swallowed the You Must Have A College Degree line. I personally have bundles of college credits. I can tell you all about the Soviet governmental system, go into excruciating detail about scientific methodology, banter about the high points in human philosophy and analyse fairy tales and novels. Imagine my surprise when none of these skills translated directly into employability. The best use of my college education so far has been the ability to write a few mildly interesting blog posts. Whee!
But these colleges--these for-profit schools--have figured that out. And they've got their patter down to a science. For somewhere between twelve and twenty thousand dollars anyone can receive either a degree or a certification in some type of technical discipline. The placement rate into jobs for these graduates is (you guessed it) 92%. At every single school. University of Phoenix. Tennessee Career College. Remington College. Southeastern Career College.
Now of course I was already wary of "92%", seeing as that was the number the J L Kirk lady gave us. I think from now on I'm going to call "92%" the Carny Number. It's close enough to one hundred to seem like success, but unrounded enough to look factual.
And here is where I say how much I love my readers and other bloggers. Because while I spent most of last Thursday being fed the 92% garbage from various tech schools, I got a whole lot of pure knowledge via email. Tons of truth were laid down in my inboxes. The truth is that there is a glut on the Medical Coder market. You do have to have a degree for medical coding, usually something along the lines of an associate's in Healthcare Adminsitration. The one-year tech certification is not enough. And there are really no at-home jobs available. If you are in the field for a number of years then you can earn a sort of "work-at-home" status, but the major Nashville hirers are all for in-office work. And here's the kicker. A career in medical coding pays somewhere between $25K and $32K. That's a very poor return on your investment in a degree.
The sad fact is that most degrees are good for the knowledge only. Unless you become a degreed licensed professional, i.e. a doctor,nurse, teacher, lawyer or engineer--one of the career paths where a degree is required to become licensed to practice--once you're out in the world of work your college education is nothing more than a nice set of books in boxes in storage. Pretty much everyone knows that by now. The For Profit colleges are playing tricks on people's minds. The public see medicine and law as solid careers, and know that you have to have a degree to be a doctor or lawyer. So these very expensive schools charge a lot of money to give you degrees to be a Medical Secretary or a Paralegal. It isn't worth it, especially knowing you can get the same type of degree for a third the cost from MTSU or TSU. I'm 92% certain of that.