I've been on a for-profit kick lately (see my previous posts entitled, "Screw U" and "Sordid Relationships And Broken Promises: Kaplan University's Troubling Relationship To The Washington" Post"). While I think we shouldn't lose focus on the larger student lending crisis and culpability of the nonprofit institutions in this mess, it's just too easy to beat these places up! There. I said it. But let's be honest, they suck and they are by virtue of their nature evil. I do wish to clarify that point, however. I am not necessarily suggesting that the teachers at these schools don't do a good job, and I know plenty of highly intelligent people who obtained degrees from such institutions. Nevertheless, the for-profit industry is a sham and it should be shut down.
Here's another heartwarming tale, this time from a former instructor, about what it's like to work at a for-profit:
I went to and was later hired on as an instructor at a for-profit career school, and this is what I saw, as briefly as I can tell it:
As a student, my experience was actually quite good; a couple of years later, however, saw the place taken on by new ownership, and that's when all the games began...
First, they took over several classrooms and converted them to admissions offices. That seemed weird from the outset, but then shortly thereafter there was a staff meeting where they wanted each instructor to give them five ideas on how we could increase the size of the student body by 25 percent a year over the next five years. I refused to participate, and got written up because I told them that (a) this was an unreasonable goal, and it seemed like they were expecting the phenomenal growth of some stocks to be transferable to our situation; (b) there wasn't any place to put any more students, as they had just converted all of the 'extra' classrooms to admissions "counselor" offices.
Anyway, the second thing that started to become apparent was that they were no longer testing applicants before they allowed them to enroll; I could no longer believe that a good 30% percentof my students had managed to graduate from high school, and the basic computer skills that were allegedly required also seemed to be optional as well. This was a huge problem for an instructor who was supposed to be effectively teaching 30 students how to program computers, and yet I was now forced to teach basic Windows stuff like saving files (I shit you not!) to these poor unprepared students while the rest of the class grew increasingly frustrated. Guess who got yelled at when they complained?!? I wasn't allowed to send them back to the admissions (SALES) people for placement in an alternate program or to send them home until they got the prerequisite knowledge, so there was nothing I could do. Sadly, the slower students monopolized the class and that, in turn, slowed down my instruction, and I finally had to talk some of the faster students into tutoring them in exchange for extra credit in order to get anything accomplished.
Next, I found out the hard way that an instructor who gave grades based upon actual merit was going to get in trouble if a student (or his or her parents) didn't like the grade he or she received. I was ordered to re-evaluate several grades each class by my program director, and to give re-tests to students who had done poorly and felt the tests hadn't been 'fair.' I even failed a student for cheating -- not once, but twice -- after I had called him on it and told him what the consequence would be if he chose to do it again. He did, and I followed through. That was until his father called and threw a fit, threatening to sue. I had to let the student re-take the final exam and resubmit any assignment where he didn't like the grade he got, followed by being forced to apologize to the kid and his father and listen to the father tell me what crappy "customer service" skills I possessed. The director just stood there, and told him that it wouldn't happen again; later, I was shocked when he didn't even try to apologize to me for having to fall on my sword like that, and when he told me that I should try to "overlook" such matters in the future for the good of all concerned. What about the honest students?!?!? Letting the assholes who knew that complaining would let them slide through get away with it was a slap in the face to everyone else, and most importantly it would devalue the certificates awarded by the school over time as the news got out that straight A's didn't mean squat from our institution anymore.
Finally, a few former students sued when they couldn't find jobs after graduating. They claimed that they had been led to believe that the school had promised them that they would get them a job, and that all they got was just a "career resource center." This was true, to a point, because they changed their language in the sales pitch to "career placement assistance" from "job placement" - but someone will hear what they want to hear, especially when the emphasis can be placed differently by individual salespeople. Taken along with the hard sell, it was misleading, in my opinion, and probably deliberately so.
I left that job after just under a year, and went to the corporate training world, which had its own issues, but at least I didn't feel like I was ripping off the students...
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