Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of several for-profit educators are getting slaughtered Monday after one of the industry's top companies, Strayer Education, reported a 20% plunge in new enrollments.

So what: It's no secret that the for-profit education space has faced intense government scrutiny of late, but given Strayer's extra-dismal student starts, stricter enrollment standards and negative press might be hurting the industry much more than even Mr. Market had expected. Fueled by those fears, investors have sent the shares of DeVry (NYSE: DV), ITT Educational (NYSE: ESI), Education Management (Nasdaq: EDMC), and Career Education (Nasdaq: CECO) all down by double-digit percentages. Meanwhile, sector bellwether Apollo Group (Nasdaq: APOL), which reports after the close, has fallen 5%.

Now what: The regulatory uncertainty surrounding for-profit educators is still too frightening for this Fool. The industry faces tough, potentially game-changing rules in the months ahead, on things like debt levels, government funding, and repayment rates. Most investors would be better served to stay on the sidelines until things clear up. If the government passes stricter enrollment rules, and even aims to limit tuition growth, today's sector sell-off might look tame in retrospect.

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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