There was a time when investors were rallying around for-profit education centers. With an iffy workforce looking to retool itself to stay relevant, enrollments were booming at post-secondary schools. That heady growth has slowed recently.

Apollo Group (NASDAQ:APOL) will shed some light on the state of higher learning tomorrow afternoon when the company reveals how fiscal 2004 ultimately shaped up.

In theory this should still be a glorious time for the industry. As Rich Smith pointed out last week, House of Representatives Bill No. 4283 should be playing right into the niche's pockets by making their credits portable to traditional four-year universities.

Back in August, Apollo revealed that it was looking to earn $2.40 a share this year on roughly $2.3 billion in revenues. That's not too shabby.

Naturally when the market was keen on the for-profit establishments there was an advantage to trading publicly. That's why Apollo is joined by peers such as Career Education (NASDAQ:CECO), Strayer (NASDAQ:STRA), ITT (NYSE:ESI), DeVry (NYSE:DV), and Corinthian Colleges (NASDAQ:COCO) in the ticker parade.

However, investors have been pickier this year. Most of these stocks in the sector are showing double-digit negative return so far this year.

2004 Stock Performance
Apollo Group +26.3%
Strayer Education +7.5%
Career Education -26.5%
ITT -21.7%
DeVry -17.6%
Corinthian Colleges -49.5%

In that sense, it's welcome to see Apollo performing so well. It's why the market will also be tuning in tomorrow to see how -- and whether -- Apollo continues to school the competition.

What do you think of the for-profit schools? Are you an educator? What issues matter most to you in the classroom? Will personal finance ever be taught properly in the school system? All this and more in the Teachers discussion board. Only on

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz remembers cheering on Rocky over Apollo -- but he can root for Apollo these days. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.