A study of the relationship between selected characteristics of Connecticut proprietary schools and job placement rates

Date of Completion

January 1999


Education, Adult and Continuing|Education, Higher|Education, Vocational




Proprietary schools date back to 1622 when they were first established to train bookkeepers (Lee & Merisotis, 1990). Connecticut's first proprietary school was founded in Hartford in 1860 and offered instruction in business and telegraphy (Connecticut Department of Higher Education, 1993). The number of schools has grown dramatically since then, particularly since the end of World War II. Nationwide, there were 1.5 million students enrolled in approximately 6,000 schools in 1995 (U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education, 1997). In 1998, approximately 15,000 students enrolled in Connecticut's 56 proprietary schools (Connecticut Department of Higher Education, 1998). ^ Proprietary schools serve two primary functions. They train students to become part of or enhance their position in the workforce and provide a vital resource, manpower development, for business and industry. Honick (1995) noted that proprietary schools developed to fill a vacuum in the training sector. Although proprietary schools are numerous and play this important role, limited research exists regarding them. Key individuals have little empirical information upon which to base decisions regarding factors that affect critical outcomes such as job placement and dropout rates. ^ In this study, factors that contribute to job placement success were analyzed. These factors included: enrollment, program length, number of years in operation, accreditation, population and per capita income of the town and county in which the school is located, and unemployment rate in the labor market area where the school is located. These factors also were measured as predictors of dropout rates. ^ Results of this study indicated the following: (1) factors such as accreditation, program length, and enrollment constituted a significant group of predictors of job placement rate, (2) proprietary schools located in towns with larger populations had a higher dropout rate after controlling for accreditation, and (3) schools that were accredited, and therefore had the ability to offer federal financial aid, had a higher dropout rate after controlling for town population. These findings will expand the limited research base and help those in the proprietary school sector make more informed decisions. ^