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  • Wednesday's Wake Up Call!: Learning about for-profit colleges

  • In this back-to-school season, make sure readers know how to spot trustworthy online education from its unsavory counterparts.

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  • This week, the Department of Justice and four states sued the Education Management Corp., the country's second-largest for-profit college company.
    The suit takes issue with the amount of federal funding the company's colleges receive, but it also alleges the company paid recruiters based on the amount of students they enrolled in EMC schools -- Art Institute, Argosy University, Brown Mackie College and South University. Whistle-blowers say recruiters were told to inflate claims about career placement to boost enrollment.
    In this age of easy access to education through the Internet, online university choices abound. How to educate your readers on this topic, and on for-profit universities:
    -- Learn how to look at schools' credentials. In GateHouse News Service's four-page Careers series, we have a story on what accreditation means and how to find it. Look for it Friday. Also, PBS' "Frontline" did an in-depth report on accreditation last year.
    -- Federal regulations have changed this year for for-profit colleges. Make sure your readers are aware of the new guidelines. Also note that a trade organization for such colleges has responded with a lawsuit, so stay tuned for more possible changes.
    -- Aside from the problems that can arise when a graduate from an untrustworthy college goes to find a job or transfer credits to another university, some for-profit colleges are placing more debt on students than they can pay. Make sure readers going into college know how to figure out what they can afford to pay.

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