Should We Be Wary of This For-Profit College?


My daughter applied to several schools for fashion business. The one she really has her heart set on (LIM College) has accepted her with a small scholarship and she is hoping to attend. My husband and I are concerned because this is a for-profit college. Is this something that should concern us? We don't know a lot about it, but many people have told us to avoid for-profit schools.

For-profit colleges often get a bad rap (which can be warranted), so you're wise to be wary. LIM, however, has been around for eons and is generally well regarded as a place that offers courses that focus on the business of fashion that are not always available elsewhere, along with the opportunities to do relevant hands-on internships in New York City, at the heart of the industry. If your daughter is passionate about fashion business, then LIM will enable her to live and study with others who share her interests.

But if finances are a concern for you in spite of the scholarship your daughter received, you should compare the bottom line at LIM with the other colleges to which your daughter has been — or will be — accepted. Fashion Institute of Technology, for instance, which is also in Manhattan, is a highly reputable public school that costs a fraction of what LIM does for New York residents and even a lot less than LIM for out-of-staters. If your daughter applied — and was admitted there — you might want to encourage her to bump FIT to the top of her list, unless money is no object for you at all. Also, if the grant your daughter was offered will play a key role in her decision, be sure to confirm that it's not a one-time deal and can be renewed throughout her time at LIM. (And if a bigger grant would go a long way toward making the price of LIM more palatable, you can appeal the current award.)

One flag for "The Dean" is that the graduation rate at LIM is low. According to the College Board, only 54 percent of entering students graduate within six years. While I don't know why nearly half of the LIM students transfer or drop out, my best guess is that some come to realize that a fashion career doesn't live up to the fantasy they held in high school, while others are daunted by the price of the tuition coupled with the high cost of living in Manhattan.

So although you don't have to put LIM on the list of fly-by-night proprietary colleges that deserve the bad reputation they've earned, if costs are a big concern for your family, you may get more bang for your buck (and less debt at the end of the road) if your daughter enrolls elsewhere.

About the Ask the Dean Column

Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean, please send it along here.

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