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If you’ve decided that you want to obtain a degree or certificate at a for-profit college, there are some things you should keep in mind before applying. Though for-profit schools are typically easier to get into than nonprofit schools and have a shorter admissions and application process, you should still know what you are getting into before signing up. Just like nonprofit colleges, you should know what you will be getting for your money after graduating.

Admissions process and accreditation

Most for-profit colleges have an open admissions process, which means you only need a high school diploma or GED to be accepted. Some for-profit schools will also require other documents in order to be accepted, too, but since these schools are aimed towards recruiting nontraditional students, you won’t have to have SAT or ACT scores and the like.

Also, for-profit colleges will typically have recruiters whose job is to get students to sign up. If they are acting pushy like a car salesperson, ask to speak to someone else or go to a different college. Because for-profit colleges are a business, a lot of recruiters are required to sign up a certain amount of students each month or semester, and most are given incentives for their performance.

Nontraditional students

For-profit colleges are generally aimed towards satisfying nontraditional students who aren’t able to attend traditional in-person colleges, whether that be because of their work/life schedules or they simply can’t get in. This can be great if you are this type of student and still need to gain skill-based training to get ahead in your career.

Degrees offered

For-profit schools offer traditional degrees but also vocational training in automotive engineering, cosmetology, design, accounting, dental and medical assistant, welding, and many other trade-based programs. They also offer certificates for those looking to get ahead in their career. The best thing to do if you are already working full-time or have a career but want to get promoted or move to a different department is to ask your employer about their view of a particular for-profit school to make sure the education you receive will be accepted.

Federal financial assistance

Though some for-profit schools don’t offer federal assistance, a lot of colleges will offer the same financial aid as nonprofit colleges. These schools will require you to fill out your FAFSA to see what type of aid you qualify for. In terms of scholarships, there may be some extra assistance in terms of grants and performance-based scholarships, but less-so than nonprofit schools. Ask the school you want to attend what type of financial aid they offer.

Job placement and potential employer’s outlook

You want to make sure that the college offers some sort of job placement program or at least help finding and applying for potential jobs. Nonprofits handle this with career centers and will sometimes have a network of organizations and businesses through their alumni center. For-profit schools will also have a network of businesses that are linked to the school in some way, usually by funding.

Likewise, make sure that the degree you receive and the school you receive it from is recognized by potential employers. Look online for this information and don’t be afraid to call businesses that you want to work for to ask how they view the school’s education. You don’t want to pay a load of tuition only to find out that your dream job is harder to get because of the school you went to.