A couple of weeks ago, a colleague who just graduated with a PhD in Nursing from a public university last year told me, “You’ll never get a job with a PhD from the University of Phoenix.” I was quite stunned and am not sure what I even said to her. I think I mumbled something about it being a rigorous program and an accredited school. I was just shocked that somebody would say that. I mean, even if it’s true (which it’s not), why would somebody say that to another person?
The University of Phoenix is a proprietary school, a private for-profit university. I earned a Master of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Phoenix and am quite proud of that. As far as I know, holding an MSN from the University of Phoenix hasn’t kept me from getting any job that I want.
There is, apparently, the attitude among students and graduates of public universities, that their education is superior. There’s nothing I can do about that. There is no shortage of jobs available for registered nurses who hold Doctor of Philosophy degrees, so I’m not really worried about putting my degree to work after I graduate.
So, why did I choose a proprietary school?
For me, honestly, it was less hassle. I earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing from a public university and I entered the graduate program at that same university soon after. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t like the classes, I didn’t feel like I was getting anything out of them and after several classes, I took a break. Unfortunately, that break last about seven years.
When I realized that I really had to earn a graduate degree, I heard from a nurse I worked with at the time about the University of Phoenix. I called them and within days, I was registered and starting classes. One of the differences between a public university and a private university is that the admission process is usually easier. When I made the decision to continue on to earn a doctoral degree, it was easiest to stay with the same university.
To some (mostly those from public universities, I suppose), this ease of getting started equals “they’ll take anybody”. What I’ve learned, though, is that just because it’s easier to get started, it doesn’t mean that the program is easy or that it’s easy to stay in or that it’s easy to complete.
You’re paying more at a private for-profit school and that assistance in the admissions process is one of the things you’re paying for.
Yes, the cost is higher at a proprietary school. This is one of the factors that everybody has to consider for his or herself. For me, it was worth it. I liked the smaller class sizes and personalized attention I got at the private university. For someone else, the lower costs at a public university may outweigh the benefits offered by a proprietary school.
I can’t answer the question of whether or not you should choose a public or a private school, I can only encourage you to pick one and get started. Now.