For-profit colleges slow in response to prospective students

Some schools respond to prospective student eMails in minutes.

For an industry known for its aggressive student recruitment techniques, many private, for-profit colleges take as long as 12 hours to return a prospective student’s phone call—and two days to respond to eMail inquiries from potential students.

Four in 10 for-profit schools don’t respond to student phone calls within a day, and seven in 10 schools have a same-day eMail response, according to a white paper released this week by Leads360, a California-based company that sells enrollment management technology.

In the survey of 28 for-profit colleges—including well-known schools like Grand Canyon University (GCU) and American Public University (APU)—“none showed consistent across-the-board success that would maximize their chances of enrolling the highest number of qualified prospects,” the white paper says.

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“In addition, several schools showed a complete disregard for the value of a consistent, efficient approach to converting inquiries into enrolled students,” the white paper said.

The white paper results might be surprising to higher education officials who have followed the consistent criticism of for-profit college recruitment practices, as detailed in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report last year.

For-profit schools have developed a reputation for high-pressure approaches and questionable claims while registering students considering a return to college.

The Leads360 research, however, showed that while some for-profits respond to prospective students’ phone calls within 10 hours, others—such as Keiser University and Rasmussen College—wait more than two days to respond.

Ashford University, an Iowa-based institution that drew scrutiny for having one of the nation’s highest withdrawal rates in a 2011 U.S. Senate report on higher education, took almost two weeks on average to call prospective students who had contacted the university.