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The Lamar Institute of Technology doesn’t appear to be pounding its chest over those inflated, state-figured “placement” rates like the state’s other technical colleges, those in the Texas State Technical College system, do in the media all the time. If LIT does, my automatic Google search isn’t bringing it back to me. Oh, I’ve found a couple of instances, but a tech college watcher has to work at it. For instance, one media article says LIT had a placement rate of 99.3%, but it was written in 2009. Another article, written in 2012, stakes out an 80-85% rate for LIT. The moral of this little tale is that I just don’t see a lot of placement rate chest pounding going on over at LIT. Since LIT doesn’t even know how well its grads are doing in terms of getting jobs related to their program of study, I figure that’s a good thing. I have to wonder just how many prospective students hear those high placement rates, even if they’re only thrown out there now and then or second-hand, and figure that, if they enroll, they’ll have a 99.3% (or 80-85%) chance of landing a job in their field of study? How many know that “placement” includes jobs in the field studied, jobs out of the field studied, joining the military, and transferring to another college? How many know the placement rate includes students the college helped place AND those it had nothing to do with placing into a job? How many know that a 90% placement rate is just average–mediocre–in the state of Texas since nearly everything counts? (For a more full explanation with links to sources, see “Texas “Placement” Rates for Public, Two-Year Colleges Explained.”) As I said, I think it is a positive thing for a Texas public technical college to NOT brag about that bogus placement rate. It is misleading, and the Texas Workforce Commission, which oversees private career schools, would shut a private outfit down for making the same claims that a public college, overseen by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, often makes.  See what happened when the Texas Workforce Commission alleged a misrepresentation of employment rates by opening the link here.  Click on the highlighted text to view a portion of Form PS-005, which reveals the information private career schools must disclose to prospective students before enrollment. Why the state does not require Texas public technical colleges to disclose this information escapes me. Could it be because the state, the “owner” of public colleges, after all, also writes the rules?

Kudos to LIT for the restraint it is apparently showing. Having said that, just to make sure I haven’t missed something, I’ve sent LIT a Texas Public Information Act request that asks for any records concerning any public pronouncements of that inflated placement rate, including any web pages on its site. (I couldn’t find anything there, either!) I asked for records concerning statements in calendar year 2013. I’m hoping that request turns up dry.

As opposed to those who attend a traditional community college, the vast majority of students attend a technical college to gain some specific, industry-related skills and get a job–period. They don’t go there to land a job doing something they did NOT study for or did not even need to study for, to join the military after graduation, or to prep for Harvard. Prospective technical college students need accurate information before they make a life-changing, not to mention expensive, decision. That placement rate, when tech college administrators throw it out there for media consumption, is simply misleading and is not about student welfare. It’s about tech colleges’ bottom lines and pulling in more students.

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