Sued College Ain't Exactly Harvard

Remember that story about Trina Thompson, the woman who sued her college after she couldn’t get a job? Turns out maybe the institution had it coming.

Slate columnist Mark Gimein takes a closer look at New York’s Monroe College and argues the school seems to be predicated on giving students very little education for a lot of dough.

The college charges nearly $6,000 per semester for out-of-state students and $2,300 for in-state, which the story says is more than local community colleges. Monroe doesn’t require SAT scores for admission, isn’t listed in U.S. News list of 1,400 colleges and Gimein couldn’t find a list of publications by Monroe faculty.

Gimein argues that Monroe is a trade school disguised as a college:

The very point of an institution like Monroe is to improve its students’ standing in the work force, but the irony is that in comparison with traditional institutions, Monroe seems to do quite badly at helping graduates make a living. One measure of the cost-effectiveness of Monroe versus other institutions is the number of graduates who wind up defaulting on their loans. At Binghamton University, the flagship campus of New York’s public system, 1.5 percent of students default on their loans. At Lehman, a school with average SAT math plus verbal scores around 870 (well below the national average for college freshman), the number is 3.2 percent.

At Monroe the numbers are much worse. Of the students who were to start repaying their loans in 2006, 9.5 percent are already in default. That’s three times higher than at nearby Lehman and 80 percent higher than the national average of 5.2% (a number that is itself elevated by the dismal record of for-profit schools like Monroe).

Does all that justify Thompson’s lawsuit? Maybe not, but it should give prospective Monroe students pause before they enrolll.

Sue this school: Should a college pay when a grad can’t find a job? This one should. [Slate]
(Thanks, Joanne!)