Anyone who knows me, knows I have a penchant for learning. It has led me to earn three degrees: a bachelors, masters, and doctorate (I will graduate with a second masters degree in May, but who is counting). I have earned degrees from both nonprofit and for profit universities, have counseled students regarding college admissions, and have researched the predatory nature with which some career colleges operate. Which is why I can say, Wisconsin does not need Arizona College of Nursing.
Arizona College of Nursing operates eighteen campuses across the country. Their signature academic program states a student can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in three short years. The college also offers career certifications for medical assistants, medical billing and coding, dental assistant, pharmacy technician, and health care administration. According to reports from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Arizona College of Nursing, a for-profit institution, is on track to open two Wisconsin campuses: the first in Milwaukee by spring 2024 and a second in Madison by spring 2025. The college still has a handful of administrative hurdles to cross before its programs are fully approved in the state. But, so far, the Wisconsin Board of Nursing has given the green light for the school to administer its accelerated program for a three-year bachelor of science in nursing (Journal-Sentinel, 2024).
While there most definitely is a need for more nurses in the state of Wisconsin, we already have several universities that offer BSN degrees. I don’t know that Arizona College would be an asset, especially in our most populous regions, Milwaukee and Madison. Or maybe this is why Arizona College sought out Madison and Milwaukee, because of their diverse populations? In my experience, for-profit career colleges often prey on communities of color and communities saturated with veterans. Understanding that urban communities are attractive to these constituencies, the pool is plentiful for advertising.
As a student and an educator, I have seen the boom and bust of for-profit education. Very few for-profit schools operate “above board”; many rely on predatory lending practices through the federal financial aid program and the GI Bill; they overpromise on what they can deliver by way of student experiences, faculty expertise, and clinical placements. When students complain of waste, fraud, and abuse, the schools file bankruptcy or are placed in federal receivership and effectively closed. We’ve been here before, remember Sanford Brown College, ITT Technical Institute, Everest College, Corinthian College, and The Art Institutes? All were for-profit colleges and all of them are closed.
As I previously stated, I have an earned degree from a for-profit college (Argosy University). Back when I was searching for a graduate program, there were hardly any non-profit universities that offered programs for working adults. At the time, Argosy had what I was looking for: multiple accreditations, comparable per credit hour rates with the local market, weekend classes, full-time faculty who had both theoretical and extensive practical knowledge in the field and the ability to put in writing what their programs could offer and would offer me as a student. Times have changed and I believe the higher education landscape has caught up to the twenty-first century. Most universities have program tracks for working adults. There are accelerated programs for nursing and teaching, which ensure fidelity in program operation.
If we as a state invest in the programs we have currently, by increasing the number of students enrolled and supporting high school students with dual enrollment opportunities in high school, we could increase the number of individuals in the nursing profession. I don’t think we need to invite another for-profit college into the mix. We have seen what happens when we make profit the bottom line.