We’ve all heard it said: With finance jobs drying up, expect a spike in law school applications. We’ll have to follow up on this to see if that actually plays out, but it does seem to capture a certain intellectual laziness of our elite youth — without a banking job to aspire to, the only other thing they can think of is to become a lawyer (it’s kind of sad).
Unfortunately, you can’t go long law school.
But there are a number of for-profit educatoin firms out there, and they’re holding up admirably well in this environment. Check out DeVry (go ahead and laugh), which reported earnings last Thursday.
- Revenue was up 21% to $303.7 million
- Op income grew 38% to $46.8 million
- Total enrollment was up 12.2% to 17,799
These are pretty solid numbers, and that’s before the mass layoffs part of the recession. As for it’s stock, the market gets that a company like DeVry might well in this economy. It’s stock is only off 19% from its highs. Other for-profit educational institutions like Apollo (APOL) and Strayer (STRA) have managed to hold up as well.
Beyond the cyclical boon to them (laid off workers going back to school), there’s also a longer-term reason to think these companies are well-positioned: America will eventually have to end its bizarre obsession with over-education. Far too many people go to traditional universities, where they waste their formative years listening to (for them) irrelevent drivel. It’s not that education is a bad thing, but the one-size-fits-all model doesn’t work.
The stigma of vocational school ought to die, and though we don’t expect most of our upper educational institutions to deign to teach much practical knowledge, it’s good to know that there are schools out there — ones interested in making money — that are happy to train students in useful skills, without also boring them with a mandatory course in Critical Theory.*
*DeVry does offer classes like Studies in Poetry, if you’re so inclined. See the Course catalogue (.pdf)