Having once worked for the for-profit “university,” I know what a pain they are. Today I read in the Chronicle of Higher Education that the for profits are challenging the findings of those entities who investigated their practices. The info can be found here and you don’t need a subscription to the Chronicle
But aside from that, there was a great comment left by “annon1234” that I feel is almost more important than the article linked above. The comment in its entirety:
Any report in defense of the for profits would be more believable if it was done by an independent commission and not paid for by the profits. Just as some question drug research done by faculty on the pharmaceutical’s payroll due to conflict of interest, any report commissioned by the alleged wronged to defend themselves is suspect and is vulnerable to bias. Especially since they did not even ask to see the evidence that isn’t publicly available yet. What were they afraid of? That the unreleased material would be even more damning? Hmm the first rule of research, don’t cherry pick your evidence.
The for profits got what they paid for – spin control “research” that, if this Chronicle report is true, is shoddy and therefore not especially believable.
I work for one of these armpits of alleged education – one of the big ones. They use high pressure tactics, have forbidden faculty to discuss the implications of borrowing more than you can afford, have freshmen borrowing unsubsidized loans, we have been ordered to pass most students, There are no closed note closed book tests – ever – where I work and the amount of time they have to take these joke exams is absurd. The major concern of my dean is that no students complain about anything, including grades. This person orders us to pass failing students and do whatever it takes to satisfy the student so they have no complaints. How on earth is this education? I am hunting for a job in traditional education to get out. Never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be this bad where I am currently working.
The mess needs cleaned up or they need put out of business. Like any lucrative business that is attacked for being unethical, they are going to go to their death to defend themselves. After all most of the people over the dean level are millionaires. Why would they want to see anything different go on? The tax payer ought to be concerned because it is our tax dollars (pell grants, student loan interest subsidy, and veteran administration funds) that is being channeled directly into the pockets of the administration of these colleges (the faculty sure aren’t seeing the money – they are underpaid compared to their public and non-profit counterparts).
Some of the more vulnerable (under prepared, often significantly disadvantaged) students out there are the ones being damaged in the long run. These are the students who don’t have savvy parents to help them navigate this minefield, are begin subjected to high pressure tactics and given misleading information. They graduate with largely worthless degrees, a huge debt load and in my opinion therefore have been legally robbed. (Annon1234, Chronicle of Higher Ed, “Report Commissioned by For-Profits Challenge” Jan 13, 2011).
The individual who left the comment has many great points and I can certainly relate to all of them on a way too personal level. For-profits target the poor and undereducated. They use scare tactics, even on faculty, to promote retention and lack of student complaint. I was also pressured to pass students who were failing and after each session I received a “retention report” that showed how many students they had kept in the system from my class. If this report was unsatisfactory, it was the fault of faculty, no matter the reason why the student left the university. If I gave a student an F for not turning in work, it wasn’t the student’s fault at all. It was my fault. I was a bad teacher. To them, I didn’t care about student learning because that student got an F for not turning in work. I can’t control what a student does do or doesn’t do, I can only implore them to work hard and do good work and aid them in those tasks as their teacher.
There were many other things that happened I could disclose, but I won’t because I simply lack the patience to do so. Thinking about it just makes me upset because I care about student learning and I care about the integrity of higher education.
In the for-profit college, nothing is a private matter–grades, academic dishonesty, nothing. This kind of institution is unethical, pure and simple.
Do I think we can win the battle? I am not optimistic. Right now, it seems as if a new for-profit is born each day. For profits allow those who are not “college material” to become college material and in the society we have built, that will be a hard battle to fight against. We teach our children that to be successful, you have to attend college. I don’t believe in that. We need to tell younger people that college is great and beneficial, but it is in no way meant for everyone nor is it meant for everyone at a certain given time. (directly after higher school graduation, for example.) A college education does not also guarantee a person success in life. And there is no easy way to counteract this besides being honest with our own children and those we teach.