It was recently announced that ITT Technical Institute would cease admitting new students, the first step in what will undoubtedly be the school’s eventual shuttering. This was due to a U.S. Department of Education decision to not allow ITT to accept federal funds.
There are some who view the for-profit school as nothing short of a scam—think Trump University only with multi-meters. However, my experience with the institution has a different take.
One of my dearest friends received his first electrical degree at the St. Louis branch of ITT Technical Institute. It was the start of a wonderful career that has led him to work for Intel in both Colorado and San Jose. He has gone on to earn a bachelors in electrical engineering (EE) and works for Boing here in St. Louis. He is one of a number of people I know who have attended for-profit colleges who have gone on to achieve great heights in their professions.
Colleges like ITT, Devry, and others offer condensed programming for those who are not a good fit to sit in a classroom for four years or longer. They provide accelerated course work that give you hands-on experience with instructors from the professions you are trying to get into.
One of the benefits to the students is also a negative for instructors. Most professors are not full time employees but working professionals in those fields. It keeps the schools’ costs low but doesn’t provide a long term teaching job for the instructors. A number of community colleges and some universities are also employing this part-time teacher strategy.
These schools provide the audio visual industry some great entry level employees as well. After 18 months or two years you have an individual who has a base knowledge of IT, electrical, programming, and more who is eager to learn and grow. I’m not saying a four-year degree doesn’t produce the same type of people, but certainly not at the same rate.
Yes, there are stories of shenanigans going on with placement success and the cost can be equivalent to a four-year degree. I would argue, though, that there are some among us who are not built to earn a traditional four-year degree.
People who simply want to get out and work in these technical trades are being told they need a BA or BS to achieve their dreams. Why? All they really need is the knowledge and experience to do their job well and the aptitude and desire to learn as they advance. So, I will mourn ITT and allow the haters to hate.