Shares of leading for-profit education company Apollo Group (NASDAQ:APOL) experienced some apostasy around midday Monday, as the company modestly trimmed its forward guidance. Shares were down 7% at the time of writing, continuing a trend that has been going on for much of September.

The revisions offered by management don't seem all that bad at first. Revenue for the fourth quarter ended in August was trimmed by about 3% versus the mean analyst estimate, and earnings per share were adjusted downward by a like amount. Management chalked up the lower revenue to a switch in its enrollment makeup, with more students enrolling in the Western International University Axia College program -- a program that generally produces less revenue per head.

Lower earnings, though, seem to be more of a product of bad debt expense. More specifically, Apollo Group wasn't able to book some reversals as hoped. Balance sheet management (including receivables and bad debt expense) gets a lot of attention in the for-profit education space, so I can understand why investors might be concerned.

Looking to the year ahead, management trimmed revenue expectations by almost 3% and the full-year EPS projection by $0.04. Management didn't go into quite as much detail on these numbers but did indicate that the impact of Hurricane Katrina was largely responsible. On a somewhat more positive note, management did say it expects enrollments to rise 20% for the latest quarter.

I have no ax to grind with Apollo at all, but this is why I tend to shy away from these sorts of stocks -- that is, high price-to-earnings ratios, high investor interest, and considerable competition. Had the stock's P/E been in the low teens and a bit less popular with momentum-investing types, maybe the revision wouldn't have generated such a downdraft.

Like a well-stocked schedule of classes, there are plenty of options here: Career Education (NASDAQ:CECO), EducationManagement (NASDAQ:EDMC), Laureate Education (NASDAQ:LAUR), ITTEducational (NYSE:ESI), Strayer (NASDAQ:STRA), DeVry (NYSE:DV) and CorinthianColleges all have billion dollar-plus market caps. With so many options, investors have a range of choices including possible turnarounds like DeVry or relative bargains like Career Education. Apollo may or may not live up to its Greek god name, but there's no shortage of candidates in this pantheon.

For more educational takes:

Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares). Though he has taken some distance-learning classes, he prefers schools with flesh-and-blood sports teams and cheerleaders. Go Hoyas!