Hold on to your wallets, kids! Ex’pression College for Digital Arts, a for-profit college, is opening up a new campus in San Jose in September 2012. According to the San Jose Business Journal, the school is leasing 65,000 square feet of office space in Ridder Park Technology Center in North San Jose. The group plans to spend $3 million to rehabilitate the space and will serve up to 550 students. Their main bay area campus, serving 650 students, is located in Emeryville.
According to the school’s website, the current cost for completing a 32-month undergraduate degree program is $92,613. Ex’pression offers exciting bachelor’s degrees such as Animation and Visual Effects, Sound Arts, Game Art and Design, and Motion Graphic Design. I know lots of kids who want to turn their video gaming skills into a job, so I’m sure the college will attract a lot of interest.
Unfortunately, many for-profit schools are good at marketing their programs and helping students secure private and government loans to pay for the high cost of tuition. What isn’t clear to many students is that this school is a trade school and is accredited as a career college. Units earned toward those bachelor’s degrees usually cannot be transferred to a regular two- or four-year college. This can turn into a problem for students who don’t know what questions to ask upon enrolling or researching the college. First-generation college students who are new to the system and do not have the guidance of family members to help navigate the enrollment process can be particular hard hit.
A recent U.S. Senate report on private, for-profit schools states, “A two-year investigation by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions demonstrated that Federal taxpayers are investing billions of dollars a year, $32 billion in the most recent year, in companies that operate for-profit colleges. Yet, more than half of the students who enrolled in those colleges in 2008-09 left without a degree or diploma within a median of four months.”
Last week, even the Doonesbury cartoon focused on the Senate report. The cartoons—go from Aug. 13 through Aug.18—showed that there’s nothing funny about the problems in for-profit schools: high salaries for school leaders, low graduation rates, and wasted taxpayer dollars.
According to the New York Times, two-thirds of college students in 2007-08 took out loans to pay for college. This number could be much higher, because it did not include loans from family members. It’s clear that we are creating a whole new generation saddled with high student loan debt. I understand it is not only for-profit schools creating this problem but they do add to it, especially for young people looking for alternative ways to learn about electronic arts.
Sparky Harlan, Executive Director/CEO at Bill Wilson Center, is a nationally recognized advocate for youth in foster care and in the juvenile justice system, as well as homeless and runaway youth.