March 11, 2015

Trista Benitez

Trista BenitezMajor and Classification

    Political Science

Faculty Mentor

    Estela Mara Bensimon, Ph.D., School of Education


    Dornsife: Political Science

Research Gateway Project

    Worth the Cost? Experiences of Nursing Graduates at a Southern California For-Profit College

Under federal allegations of predatory recruiting and discouraging graduate outcomes, numerous for-profit colleges have terminated operations. In light of these developments, higher education scholars have debated public benefits to for-profit higher education. On the one hand, unselective enrollment standards ensure open-access to students underserved by community colleges. On the other hand, above-average tuition and default rates caution against enrollment. Contextualized in an entry-level nursing program, this pilot study examined factors for enrollment and graduate outcomes at American Career College, a Southern Californian for-profit college. A textual analysis of selected Yelp! Reviews and 5 interviews with recent graduates found student enrollment decisions to be minimally researched and highly deferential to recruiter messages. Upon program completion, graduates reported discouraging placement in smaller care facilities, as opposed to expected employment in acute care hospitals. The context of nursing enriched this investigation, for healthcare employment signals stability for emerging adults and older career-changers. Although a for-profit college offers flexibility and accelerated entry the nursing profession, participants reported pressure to invest in future training to capture expected outcomes. This study ultimately highlights susceptibility to enter an accelerated program, despite its high costs and insufficient preparation for a career in contemporary nursing.